You might have recently heard about YY.com, the first Chinese company in the past 8 months to attempt an IPO and the latest Chinese social network to reach high numbers of users (400 million, just as many as the better known Sina Weibo).
What you don’t know is that YY.com is not just another social network. But a collection of large groups of users with interest in specific fields – music, education, sports, gaming – where participants can earn real money by showcasing their talent or teaching a skill.
Take the following as a guide:
1) It started out as a gaming platform
YY started out in 2005 as an online gaming portal named DuoWan, supporting mostly multi-player role games. DuoWan understood that the players needed an easy way to chat with each other while slaying monsters and planning battlefield strategies, so in 2008 the company introduced the communication tool YY Yuyin. The tool became an instant hit and by introducing video, voice over and chat into the game experience the company created a business from it.
2) Think of it as a “virtual stadium”
YY has since then evolved into a virtual mega stadium – as Forbes author puts it – where groups of up to 1 million people can log in at the same time and watch, comment, engage in the same activity. Chinese youth now have real-time access to user-created groups where they can interact with voice and video session.
3) Is not about ‘connecting and sharing’ but about ENGAGING
As stated by the CEO David Li, “Facebook focuses on connecting people. YY focuses on engaging people. Once people are already connected, YY finds a way to solve those problems.”. (see full transcript here)
The product offers support to a wide range of industries, not just gaming. As one pharmaceutical giant experienced whereby it hosted over 30,000 scientists and doctors to a virtual conference to engage stakeholders without the traditional alternative – expensive conferences.
4) You can make REAL profit on it
Take karaoke for example, one of YY’s most popular features. One person can sing while thousands of listeners can log in and listen, commenting with each other on text chat and voice over. Listeners use virtual gifts (roses) as tickets to access live content for their favourite singers, roses that can be traded at the end of the show for real money. Top earners can reap up to $20,000 per month.
Education is another good business to be in on YY. One young man started teaching Photoshop online right after graduation and now earns over $180,000 per month. That’s about 60 times an average salary of a fresh graduate in China.
5) There’s nothing like it in the U.S.
Think of it like a mix of Skype, Google Hangouts and Ustream functionalities paired with Zynga and American Idol. Although there are plenty of streaming video sites and video chat services in the US, none of them have such a diverse revenue stream as YY does with their virtual gifts system. YY has successfully meshed social + gaming + rewards and created unrivalled engagement across many industries.
It’s all about solving problems. At this point the product has only just scratched the surface at its true potential. It’s successfully been nimble enough to move with the customer and provide a very simple solution to a daily need for engagement. As they explore where engagement helps people do better work, enjoy a holiday, communicate more, sell more product and others we should start to see customized solutions throughout many product categories over the short period.