Failed anonymous chat app is pivoting to social shopping – South China Morning Post

What happened: Toilet, an anonymous messaging app that launched in January, has rebranded itself as a social e-commerce platform. It’s also changed its name to Haoji. Similar to popular app Xiaohongshu, users can share photo or video reviews of various products. Users can also add purchase links to their posts.

Why it’s important: Toilet launched roughly around the same time as two other apps which were spun as potential WeChat-killers: smartphone brand Smartisan’s Bullet Messenger and Duoshan, owned by valuable AI content startup Bytedance. Despite brief bursts of popularity, both apps saw their profiles slide in ensuing months. In March, after criticism of inadequate security and salacious content, the team behind Bullet Messenger was reportedly dismantled. Duoshan, meanwhile, is still regularly ranked within the top 20 of the Apple App Store’s free social app category, but has steadily dropped in overall rankings. However Toilet’s rebirth as an e-commerce app plays out, its pivot shows that it may still be too soon to challenge industry titan WeChat.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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