TikTok may be the most successful app to emerge from China and make significant worldwide gains, but there are a slew of other smaller entertainment applications that are following in its footsteps. One of them is Tiya. It is an audio-based, real-time networking platform that was born out of the Chinese podcasting platform Lizhi. Does this ring a bell? Clubhouse has been compared to Tiya. Lizhi’s stock soared in spring 2021 thanks to the Clubhouse craze of the previous year.
However, Tiya’s concept predates Clubhouse’s ascent (and fall). The app debuted in 2019 and has a diverse user base, with many people using it to talk while playing games together. Its parent company, Lizhi, which was formed in 2013, was one of the first to introduce interactive features into audio content, allowing listeners to message producers and purchase virtual presents for them. Selling virtual products as a business strategy immediately proved to be profitable.
Tiya has progressively built popularity in its first market, the United States, over the past three years, and it’s now ready to expand internationally. The app said today that it has opened a 10,000-square-foot headquarters in Singapore’s central business district, near companies like Yahoo and Goldman Sachs. The app will be available for download in Singapore as soon as the office opens in Q1 of this year. Tiya has roughly 20 million downloads worldwide, but it is unclear how many are active users.
For Chinese tech companies with a growing international footprint, opening a branch abroad is a natural option. Take, for example, TikTok. As the video-sharing app grew in popularity around the world, it began to aggressively expand its operational force outside of China. It also claims to be storing user data in Singapore, despite growing worries about data security among Western regulators. Because China’s new data security law restricts how corporations can transmit data abroad, it may be in their best interests for businesses to separate their domestic and international data.
Tiya’s Singapore headquarters will have departments for big data, human resources, user research, administration, and operations, as well as a team to support the company’s “technology platform and product development ambitions,” according to a press release. By the end of 2022, it hopes to have a “fully operational team” in the city-state, with plans to “progressively launch its latest version of the app around the world.”
It has formed a collaboration with Nanyang Technological University to attract graduates as part of its hiring efforts. “With the debut of Tiya in Singapore and our local team of world-class talents, we are certain that we will be able to achieve greater success in the region,” says Marco Lai, chairman of Tiya and creator of Lizhi.