ZYNN A TikTok clone hit the top of the App Store by paying users to watch videos,But is it all smoke and mirrors?

Zynn is a short-form video App where you discover and create your content. At Zynn, spark your creativity and fully express yourself!

Hosting content from various creators, you can enjoy and share your moments. With a wide variety of music, audio clips and text effects, you can create eye-catching clips that everyone enjoy!

Pick up what we’re putting down? Check out all our features:

• Discover spontaneous and exciting short-form videos

• Create fancy 15 seconds videos with massive music library, cool stickers and funny effects

• Share wonderful moments to Instagram, Snapchat and etc.

• Connect to like-minded people from the globe, embrace your community

TikTok has a new competitor: Zynn, a nearly button-for-button clone of TikTok that differentiates itself with one key twist — it pays users to sign up, watch videos, and convince others to follow suit. The app launched at the beginning of May, and as Mashable noticed, it’s now the number one free app in Apple’s App Store and in the top 10 on Google’s Play Store, too.

Reported by Mashable, Zynn doesn’t seem like just a short-term scam dressed up as a TikTok clone but rather a very well-funded TikTok copycat actually looking to steal its market share. As it happens, Zynn developer Owlii/Qianyun Zhao was acquired by a multi-billion dollar Chinese company called Kuaishou.

So it seems Zynn is no small effort. Notably, TikTok recently crossed 2 billion downloads globally, so what has Zynn done to create such massive traction to reach the number one spot in Apple’s US App Store? Created a pyramid scheme that pays its users to download, use, and refer the app.

If you download Zynn and sign up, one of the first prompts you’re greeted with is a pop-up that informs you that has just been placed into your account. Refer a friend to Zynn and you’ll make bucks. For every five friends you refer, you get an extra . Scroll through the Zynn video feed and you’ll also accumulate points which transfer into pocket change, adding to your monetary totals.

Here’s how it looks:

Zynn is fully a TikTok clone. The core interface is identical, and both are oriented around watching short portrait-orientation videos. The big distinction is a countdown timer with a dollar sign in the middle that hovers over every video on Zynn. As you watch videos, the timer fills up and gives you points, which you’re supposed to be able to redeem later as cash or gift cards. I haven’t tested to see if this works, but a couple of people have posted YouTube videos showing payment receipts.

The caveat is it appears cashing out rewards doesn’t really work…

Now that Zynn is gaining attention, time will tell if Apple will allow it to remain on the App Store with its pyramid scheme design.

Zynn seems to have grown so quickly for a couple of reasons. There’s the paying users to watch videos, obviously (I was able to get {content}.12 by watching videos for what felt like a few minutes). But the app also has a referral scheme that pays users for getting others to sign up and use the service themselves, which likely went a long way toward helping it spread. A big banner in the app promises 0 if you can get five people to sign up (with the fine print that most of that money only arrives if the people you refer continue to regularly use the app). The service also came pre-filled with videos because the app is able to pull content from Kuaishou. The Information reports that Zynn’s videos are “mostly” from Kuaishou right now.

Like TikTok, the app launches you straight into watching a video the first time you open it. If you want to earn rewards, though, you have to sign up. And to sign up, you have to hand over some personal info to Zynn. There’s no option to create an account directly with Zynn — it has to be tied to some other service: Google, Facebook, Twitter, or your phone number. I tried to link my Google account, but Zynn wouldn’t let me proceed when I declined to share my contact information. I ended up signing up with a burner Google Voice number. This didn’t result in the app asking for access to my contacts, but Zynn now knows my (fake) phone number. The app also requested location access during the sign-up process, but it still allows you to proceed if you decline. To cash out your rewards, you have to link a PayPal account as well.

If this is all you know about Zynn, you might get the impression that it’s a fly-by-night scam that blew up thanks to viral marketing. But, if you take a look at the app developer behind the platform, Owlii, you’ll find a legit tech company that’s even been backed by venture capital.

But, there’s more. Owlii has recently been acquired by another Chinese tech company called Kuaishou. And that should cause TikTok to start paying close attention to Zynn.

Kuaishou is one of TikTok’s biggest competitors in China. It’s the second most popular short-form video app, right behind Douyin — which is what China’s version of TikTok is called. According to The Information, Kuaishou has more than 300 million daily active users in China. The company has even sued Bytedance in the country claiming “unfair competition.”

Just this past December, Kuaishou was valued at billion in a financing round that included some of the biggest Chinese tech companies like Baidu and Tencent. The company earned .7 billion in revenue last year.

With that kind of backing and a monetized user acquisition model, it seems pretty clear that Kuaishou is going after TikTok’s U.S. market dominance with Zynn.

So is TikTok’s time up? Probably not, judging by the activity happening on Zynn right now.

While many videos on Zynn are full of comments, the app’s lacking in actual visual content. But, if Zynn does manage to bring more legit creators on board, it’s possible this app can succeed in taking on TikTok where others have failed.


Whoever said money can’t buy love has never heard of Zynn.

It’s the top free iPhone app in the US right now. It looks a lot like TikTok. And it’s shelling out cash to Americans faster than the stimulus checks.

Create an account? Zynn will send you {content}, redeemed through PayPal. Invite 5 friends? Cha-ching, up to 0. Every video you watch earns a handful of points, which you can convert into cash or Amazon gift cards.

Some users say they’ve seen big paydays, but others are less sold: Several users complained that they hadn’t received their earnings. One venture capitalist called it a “giant referral pyramid scheme.”

TikTok can’t hip-thrust its way out of this one

It’s no accident that Zynn launched in the US last month, a year after TikTok first giddy-upped into the American mainstream with “Old Town Road.”

In China, the companies behind Zynn and TikTok are fierce competitors: Zynn (which is called Kuaishou in China) is the country’s 2nd most popular app after TikTok (known to Chinese users as Douyin). This month, Kuaishou sued Douyin for “unfair competition.”

Zynn has lived in TikTok’s shadow — both feature short videos, an endless scroll, and near-identical “discover” pages.

Paying people to use your app has a rich history

Whipping out the checkbook helped the Chinese news app Qutoutiao and the ecommerce giant Pinduoduo build huge followings, according to The Information.

And Zynn can afford to run itself into the red for a little while: Last year, the company pocketed .7B in revenue.

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