Casual meetups in China are challenging in a culture where dating game shows are an apt way to snatch up a wealthy groom and marriage qualifies as a get-to-know-you conversation starter. Translated as “Hi, stranger” in Mandarin, Momo recently nabbed an impressive $40 million Series B round for its location-based casual encounter app, as first reported by Sina Tech.
Rumors abound that Alibaba was part of the round, though the Chinese venture firm declined comment to TECHINASIA.
The round places the company’s value at over $100 million.
Launched only a year ago, the app already has 10 million users, boasting 2.2 million daily active users and processing 40 million messages a day while adding another million users every month.
Dating in China is a challenge in a culture where men vastly outnumber women. People in Chinese culture tend to be shyer about making those early, casual connections. Sites like Jiayuan and Baihe have a popular following, but focus on connections that lead to marriage. Momo touts itself as more casually friendly, setting up dates for a single night or a few days. The company does claim that its services have inspired a few weddings, however.
Safety concerns abound, of course. Last June, a 32-year-old man was sentenced to eight years in jail for raping seven women he had connected with using Weixin, a general purpose messaging app, according to PandoDaily. Still, as Momo’s fast traction indicates, those concerns are not enough to keep the average Momo user under lock and key, watching TV with their mothers.
At its current traction, Momo is poised to hit 15 million users by the end of this year, and it’s safe to say many of those users won’t be only using the service to schedule their next tea tasting.