Published On: Tue, May 3rd, 2022

An early TikTok exec only launched a dating app, Spark

A former boss during musical.ly (now famous as TikTok), Alex Hofmann has already finished something that seems impossible: He helped build an app that could contest with amicable giants like Meta, YouTube or Snapchat. After ByteDance acquired musical.ly for around $1 billion in 2018, Hofmann left a association to turn an investor, though he shortly motionless he wanted to make apps again. So, Hofmann founded 9count, a primogenitor association to apps like Everland, Helpline, Juju and a friendship-making app Wink, that has millions of users.

“There’s a trend that we celebrated in China that a lot of tech companies there don’t usually build one product, though mixed products,” Hofmann told TechCrunch. He remarkable that a association like Meta grows by appropriation apps like Instagram and WhatsApp, while Twitter continues iterating on a same flagship app. “Having one product is super exciting, of course, though we do see a trend that there are some-more and some-more opposite seductiveness groups. Serving them with usually one product can work, though there is a aloft possibility that we can bond with some-more people with opposite products.”

So far, Wink is 9count’s many successful app, that is renouned among younger users who wish to make new friends online (Hofmann says that a app has a calm mediation group of 15 people who work 24/7). But Wink connects people though courtesy to location, so prolonged as a users pronounce a same language. This pattern is conscious — a association didn’t wish to face a confidence emanate of people assembly adult in genuine life, given a app is accessible for users 13 and up.

“But it was engaging that some of a 18-plus-year-old users asked us, ‘Oh, it would be good if we could demeanour for people in my city,’” Hofmann said. “So that was one of a reasons because we said, we know, maybe it would make clarity to indeed emanate a dating app.”

A chairman holding a phone that uncover a grid interface of a dating app

Image Credits: Spark

Unlike many renouned dating apps, Spark doesn’t ask we to appropriate left or right. Instead, we can see people around we all during once in a grid, kind of like on Grindr. But distinct Grindr, we thankfully can usually accept messages from people if you’ve both “sparked” (or liked) any other.

“For us, it was unequivocally perplexing to know what would replicate a genuine universe in a best probable way,” Hofmann said. “So for instance, during a party, you’re not going to spend your time mentally meditative ‘yes’ and ‘no’ as we demeanour during any chairman around you.”

Similar to an app like Bumble, once we send a like or a summary on Spark, a ask usually lasts 24 hours.

“We unequivocally wish users to fast respond, so no one has to play a watchful diversion as they do in other apps right now,” Hofmann said.

Spark has already “soft launched” in hundreds of countries, climbing to No. 1 in a iOS app store in Ireland and a Netherlands within a day. While a app is giveaway to use, there’s also a subscription option, that gives users customary paid dating app perks like a ability to see everybody who favourite you, additional “sparks,” and more. Hofmann remarkable that a accurate pricing and advantages are still theme to change, though that right now, a subscription is $19.99 per month, with slight discounts if we allow for 3 or 12 months during a time.

When it comes to safety, Spark uses Hive, an AI mediation tool, to make certain that users aren’t uploading damaging or NSFW calm to their profiles. Like Wink, Spark has a 24/7 trust and reserve team. Spark also hired a confidence consultant to mark bugs and vulnerabilities on a height before they can be exploited by bad actors.

Of course, no matter what reserve measures are in place on a dating app, users should always practice counsel when assembly strangers in person. Match Group, a primogenitor association to apps like Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge, invested in Noonlight to capacitate confidence facilities like puncture assistance, plcae tracking and print verification. That business preference followed an inquisitive news by ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations, that suggested how Match Group authorised famous sex offenders to use the giveaway apps.

Founded in 2018, 9count has lifted $21.5 million in appropriation led by Redpoint and GGV Capital. Its newest app Spark is accessible now on iOS.

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