Match Group (Nasdaq: MTCH), the company that owns dating app Tinder, agreed to acquire Hyperconnect, a South Korean maker of apps aimed at forming friendships, for no small amount: about $1.7 billion in cash and stock for the owner of the Azar and Hakuna Live apps.
“Coronavirus is accelerating existing digital trends” may be a phrase that has become overused at this point—but it still holds water. And there’s perhaps no better proof than this. The effects of loneliness became front and center in the isolating nature of the pandemic. The deal allows Match to expand beyond romantic liaisons and into platonic ones, and also grow in different geographic regions.
“With more than 75% of usage and revenue coming from markets spread across Asia, their product suite and regional footprint squarely complements our own,” Match Chief Executive Officer Shar Dubey said of Hyperconnect.
The deal also points to a trend around social media apps doubling down on video. Hakuna Live focuses on live streaming, and Azar matches people through video chat. While the company did not reveal the number of active users on the platform, the press release announcing the news revealed that Azar has been downloaded some 540 million times since its launch, while Hakuna Live has been downloaded some 23 million times.
When I heard the news, I must say I was skeptical at first as to whether the app was truly about friendship. But I tried out Azar—the larger of the two—and those who spoke with me on the app said that much of their motivations were indeed around making friends or an Xbox gaming buddy.
But in my conversations on Azar, it seemed that some of the content issues that plagued famous chat website Omegle remain as challenges for Azar too. It’s perhaps why the app is listed at 17+ on the app store. I was told of multiple incidents of people exposing themselves after just under an hour of chatting on Azar, and personally received no shortage of reminders as to my race. (The app does feature a way to report users for inappropriate content, and I have reached out to Match for their comment.)
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