The New Social App Chat Bao — It’s All about the Money Money Money

Download the app, and you can win a flight!

Drones, Three Squirrels (a nut brand), e-cigarettes and free flights on Ctrip, these are not the words you would usually come across during a launch event of a tech company that earned their reputation for making smartphones.

However, survival is always a must for startups. This winter, Chinese tech startup Smartisan, which founded one of the most popular smartphone brands among Chinese artistic youth, faced some dramatic ups and downs. News came earlier that the company was at the brink of bankruptcy until Luo appeared in public for the first time after the crisis and said the condition was not as bad as outside speculations made it out to be.

To die on your feet or live on your knees, that is the question.

We can tell that this time, Smartisan has adopted a more unpretentious style compared to the previous high-end products the company is associated with. Luo, is now taking a step down using a more generic approach, maybe in an attempt to attract a wider audience.

Luo and Bullet Messenger

According to him, Bullet Messenger, the social app that once climbed up to the top of the app store list, was only a diamond in the rough, an unfinished product. The new social app was given a cheesy but likeable name, Liao Tianbao, which means “Chat Treasure” in Chinese. The new logo, instead of the original bullet, is a smiling gold ingot.

Chat Bao, chat for money

The main attraction of this social app is clear and simple, money, money and money. Users can chat for money, invite friends to join a group for money, and do certain tasks to get money.

Even if you close down the system, the money will still go into your account automatically. However, you probably still need to check your account from time to time, or else the system will collect all the money back regularly. But to be clear, you can make money by just using the app! Having to literally pay people to use a new app really says something about how hard it is to penetrate the chat app market.

It’s more like a test of human nature.” According to Luo.

A tip for all social app product managers out there, never ever think you could outsmart the users and excel in the perception of human nature. Building a platform based on your perception of human nature is not necessarily a bulletproof one, what if your perception is wrong?

And then there is the fact that they drastically altered their concept by changing their target audience, as discussed in Techbuzz China’s podcast. Normally we wouldn’t assume social network is created for earning some extra money. We use WeChat or messenger to chat, right?

Xinyue Geng, CTO of, a renowned social network for movie and literature lovers said, the essence of making a successful social app is to figure out a universal psychological motive for users to download this app. In this sense, the motive for Douban users is to retreat to a spiritual home that’s separated from the outer world.

But then Douban targets “groups of elites”, leaving out the commoners, so much for “universal” motives.

During the launch event, Luo pointed out that, “One billion Chinese have never flown before. 400 million have never used flush toilets.” It startled me. I couldn’t help but contemplate on the fact that our own social surroundings prevents us from developing a comprehensive understanding of our own country.

Many people talk about how lame the counterfeit and inferior products that sell on Pinduoduo are. We despise and mock the app so much that people end up downloading it simply to make fun of it. But then its daily average users (DAU) has reached 55.9 million as of this June.

SEE ALSO: Pinduoduo Reports Big Wins and Losses in the First Post-IPO Report Amidst Counterfeit Goods Scandal

It’s the real, massive crowd that needs a dryer that costs only 19.9 yuan, rather than a 2000 yuan Dyson Supersonic hair dryer. And disguised by a so-called “middle-class mentality”, we would think the app such as Chat Bao has no market at all. “The app is basically designed to appeal to poorer users who are not trying to be hip or cool, but just want to make some money or find some great deals.” Rui Ma, co-host of Techbuzz China podcast, said.

A folksy approach is one thing we would remember about Luo’s 2019 debut, when tech innovations were replaced by the passion for attracting investments. Now, Chat Bao is giving out 10,000 free return flights after the Chinese New Year. It must have cost over 10 million, let’s say at least 1000 yuan per flight. In return, the company provide the investors with enough commercial exposure.

e-cigarette brand Luo promoted during the launch event

Another thing that caught my eye is the e-cigarette brand he promoted during the event. The brand is founded by the previous No.1 employee of Smartisan, Zhu Xiaomu. The product creates vapor smoke, without producing tar, which is 95 percent less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

The demand for e-cigarettes is rising , as first-tier city consumers are flying to Japan or Korea to purchase them. Spectators believe that rather than a desperate approach, e-cigarettes can be a new turning point for Smartisan.

Let’s wish him good luck!