Briefing: Sohu joins China’s social networking resurgence with Huyou

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搜狐社交产品“狐友”正式版上线 张朝阳称其为搜狐的未来 – Bianews

What happened: Chinese internet portal Sohu has formally launched a new social networking app named Huyou to target China’s younger users. An offshoot of its news aggregation app’s social networking feature, Huyou offers typical tools such as blogs, photo-sharing features, and online games. The service has been undergoing testing as an independent app since May 2018 and now has around 2.5 million users.

Why it’s important: As one of the earliest tech giants in China, Sohu offers a variety of services including a search engine, advertising, news, online multiplayer gaming, and video streaming. The company had a fair share of China’s pre-mobile social networking market with products like Facebook-like ChinaRen and Bai Shehui, which targeted white-collar users. Left behind in the transition to mobile internet, Sohu’s social networking services were overtaken by the likes of WeChat and QQ. With the launch of Huyou, Sohu is joining a number of other internet companies that have recently taken aim at WeChat’s ongoing dominance with new products. Three new social media apps were launched on January 15 to challenge WeChat: Bytedance’s video-messaging app Duoshan; Smartisan parent company Kuairu Technology’s Liaotianbao, an updated version of the once-popular messaging service Bullet Messenger; and Shenzhen-based Ringo.AI’s Matong, an anonymous social media app. However, these initiatives could be short lived: Liaotianbao is reportedly facing the axe after Smartisan’s sale to Bytedance, and Matong was taken down from app stores because of regulatory noncompliance.