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PicsArt hits 130 million MAUs as Chinese flock to its photo editing app – TechCrunch

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If you’re like me, who isn’t big on social media, you’d think that the image filters that come inside most apps will do the job. But for many others, especially the younger crowd, making their photos stand out is a huge deal.

The demand is big enough that PicsArt, a rival to filtering companies VSCO and Snapseed, recently hit 130 million monthly active users worldwide, roughly a year after it amassed 100 million MAUs. Like VSCO, PicsArt now offers video overlays though images are still its focus.

Nearly 80 percent of PicsArt’s users are under the age of 35 and those under 18 are driving most of its growth. The “Gen Z” (the generation after millennials) users aren’t obsessed with the next big, big thing. Rather, they pride themselves on having niche interests, be it K-pop, celebrities, anime, sci-fi or space science, topics that come in the form of filters, effects, stickers and GIFs in PicsArt’s content library.

“PicsArt is helping to drive a trend I call visual storytelling. There’s a generation of young people who communicate through memes, short-form videos, images and stickers, and they rarely use words,” Tammy Nam, who joined PicsArt as its chief operating officer in July, told TechCrunch in an interview.

PicsArt has so far raised $45 million, according to data collected by Crunchbase. It picked up $20 million from a Series B round in 2016 to grow its Asia focus and told TechCrunch that it’s “actively considering fundraising to fuel [its] rapid growth even more.”

PicsArt wants to help users stand out on social media, for instance, by virtually applying this rainbow makeup look on them. / Image: PicsArt via Weibo

The app doubles as a social platform, although the use case is much smaller compared to the size of Instagram, Facebook and other mainstream social media products. About 40 percent of PicsArt’s users post on the app, putting it in a unique position where it competes with the social media juggernauts on one hand, and serving as a platform-agnostic app to facilitate content creation for its rivals on the other.

What separates PicsArt from the giants, according to Nam, is that people who do share there tend to be content creators rather than passive consumers.

“On TikTok and Instagram, the majority of the people there are consumers. Almost 100 percent of the people on PicsArt are creating or editing something. For many users, coming on PicsArt is a built-in habit. They come in every week, and find the editing process Zen-like and peaceful.”

Trending in China

Most of PicsArt’s users live in the United States, but the app owes much of its recent success to China, its fastest growing market with more than 15 million MAUs. The regional growth, which has been 10-30 percent month-over-month recently, appears more remarkable when factoring in PicsArt’s zero user acquisition expense in a crowded market where pay-to-play is a norm for emerging startups.

“Many larger companies [in China] are spending a lot of money on advertising to gain market share. PicsArt has done zero paid marketing in China,” noted Nam.

Screenshot: TikTok-related stickers from PicsArt’s library

When people catch sight of an impressive image filtering effect online, many will inquire about the toolset behind it. Chinese users find out about the Armenian startup from photos and videos hashtagged #PicsArt, not different from how VSCO gets discovered from #vscocam on Instagram. It’s through such word of mouth that PicsArt broke into China, where users flocked to its Avengers-inspired disappearing superhero effect last May when the film was screening. China is now the company’s second largest market by revenue after the U.S.

Screenshot: PicsArts lets users easily apply the Avengers dispersion effect to their own photos

A hurdle that all media apps see in China is the country’s opaque guidelines on digital content. Companies in the business of disseminating information, from WeChat to TikTok, hire armies of content moderators to root out what the government deems inappropriate or illegal. PicsArt says it uses artificial intelligence to sterilize content and keeps a global moderator team that also keeps an eye on its China content.

Despite being headquartered in Silicon Valley, PicsArt has placed its research and development center in Armenia, home to founder Hovhannes Avoyan. This gives the startup access to much cheaper engineering talents in the country and neighboring Russia compared to what it can hire in the U.S. To date, 70 percent of the company’s 360 employees are working in engineering and product development (50 percent of whom are female), an investment it believes helps keep its creative tools up to date.

Most of PicsArt’s features are free to use, but the firm has also looked into getting paid. It rolled out a premium program last March that gives users more sophisticated functions and exclusive content. This segment has already leapfrogged advertising to be PicsArt’s largest revenue source, although in China, its budding market, paid subscriptions have been slow to come.

picsart 1

PicsArt lets users do all sorts of creative work, including virtually posing with their idol. / Image: PicsArt via Weibo

“In China, people don’t want to pay because they don’t believe in the products. But if they understand your value, they are willing to pay, for example, they pay a lot for mobile games,” said Jennifer Liu, PicsArt China’s country manager.

And Nam is positive that Chinese users will come to appreciate the app’s value. “In order for this new generation to create really differentiated content, become influencers, or be more relevant on social media, they have to do edit their content. It’s just a natural way for them to do that.”

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Satechi USB-C Slim Dock For 24-Inch iMac Review: Fixing Shortcomings

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There are plenty of iMac docks on the market today, especially after the launch of the 2021 M1 models. Part of the tradeoff for the computer’s gorgeously slim design is the dearth of ports, all of which are hidden behind its screen. But while many of these docks and hubs are advertised as compatible with the 24-inch iMac, Satechi’s new dock takes that to the extreme — in fact, the USB-C Slim Dock is designed only for the 24-inch M1 iMac. Sure, you could use it for other computers, but then you lose one of its biggest features.

That feature is actually the wide gap on its bottom that perfectly fits the base of the iMac. This makes the dock look almost like it’s part of the iMac itself, especially if you get matching colors. The dock also creates a wider base that you could put things on if you like. Either way, its exclusivity to the 2021 and 2022 M1 iMacs works in its favor, creating a seamless appearance that fits the machine perfectly.

Whether you match colors or not, the Satechi USB-C dock matches the build quality of the iMac it sits on. Made from durable aluminum, the accessory looks premium and stylish, adding some character to your desk just as much as the iMac does. The material also makes heat dissipation more effective, which comes in handy given its hidden superpower. If there’s one disappointing aspect of the dock, it would be that it’s available only in silver and blue colorways that won’t color match all the available iMac hues.

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This Space-Age Electric Scooter Has Steering-Assist And A Controversial Design

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Bo’s e-scooter was never meant to be conventional. However, there is a danger that the ditching of a long-established mechanical element may cause some debate and controversy within the e-scooter community. The change involves the hinge most e-scooters have between the stem and the deck, which bo has removed entirely, meaning the M is un-foldable. It’s too early to say if bo’s choices will lead to a full-blown scooter civil war, but the company is standing by its decision, with CTO Harry Willis saying, “Aware that to some it is controversial, we made a conscious decision to eliminate the fold, launching bo M with an unbroken Monocurve chassis.”

The startup argues that the benefits of ditching “the fold” outweigh any inconveniences. Those claimed benefits include increased ride quality, safety, and reliability. “It represented a point of weakness, so that directed us to this final design,” Willis said. The downsides are essentially limited to the scooter taking up more space when not in use. This may not even be an issue at all, with bo claiming the majority of people never even bother to fold their scooters in the first place. They also claim this puts the M in an entirely new category, with it hovering somewhere between a classic e-scooter and a larger, more practical, e-bike. Sometimes change is good.

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The 5 Best And 5 Worst 3-Wheeled Cars On The Market

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Hailing from the Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish sea is the Peel P50, which is said to be the smallest production car ever made. Looking at it, it is hard to disagree. The P50 has enough room for one person, barely, and offers minimal protection from the elements. The Peel offers minimal car in general. For someone who wants to own a piece of curios history and have a toy to bring out every once in a while, the P50 is fine. For anyone who wants a vehicle, even as a weekend toy, and drives it often, the P50 is terrible.

The Peel was made in the early sixties and only managed to produce 49 in total. It is powered by a 49cc DKW scooter engine, providing a whopping 4.5 horsepower. It’s got 3 forward gears and the reverse is handled literally by a handle. You must lift up the rear and turn it in the direction you want to go (via BBC). Such niceties as climate control and electric start are pipe dreams for this car as well.

For reasons unknown, someone has decided to make new models. Since there were only 49 made in the first place, a dearth of tiny and useless cars drove up the prices and it seemed somehow to be necessary to create more for someone to drive for some reason, presumably. In the end, it’s an oddity that is impractical in every way and should not be driven ever.

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