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Momo Marks U.S. Expansion With Blupe App Launch
Barely a month after filing for IPO in the U.S., Chinese social service Momo has backed the launch of English-language app Blupe, marking the company’s expansion into the U.S.
It follows the announcement earlier this year that they would close their English language service in July, raising suspicion that there was a stand-alone app in development.
The Blupe interface is based on user-created interest groups that allow strangers to join communities and interact via a chat interface.
Blupe is quick to note that it is a wholly San Francisco-based company, with only “origins and support” from Momo. Their U.S. office has both Chinese and American employees and is led by the Momo US team with CEO Sic Zhang.
Parent company Momo is frequently referred to in China as a ‘flirting app’ and has been compared to Tinder in the U.S. The company came under fire in April this year when it was linked to prostitution as part of China’s state-led crackdown on illicit content. It has since taken a notable shift toward an interest-based community model, which may explain the strong focus on interests in the Blupe release.
Blupe is also trying to distance itself from these imputations, claiming that the interface will focus on more than just personal appearance and basic information. “This differs quite a bit from Momo’s original model of complete, open communication,” says product marketing manager Kayla Cunningham.
“Our focus is on what you love. Many vaguely similar apps revolve around appearance or the bare minimum list of who a person is.
“Blupe is flipping the switch within the U.S. market, and turning the spotlight back on what people really want to connect on, their true interests.”
Blupe is still in the early release stage and is not currently releasing statistics or plans for future monetization. Currently it is only available on iOS, though a version will be released on the Google Play Store soon.
This year, parent Momo followed a list of Chinese tech heavyweights – including Alibaba, Weibo and JD.com – into the American market when it went public on the NASDAQ earlier this month. Momo has over 180.3 million monthly active users as of September 2014.
Image Source: Blupe
Editing by Mike Cormack (@bucketoftongues)