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Twitter Could Be a Mirror to Snap Investors

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Weibo claims 340 million subscribers

In mid-May 2017, China’s Weibo (WB) reported that its namesake microblogging app had garnered 340 million monthly active users by the end of 1Q17. In contrast, Twitter (TWTR) finished 1Q17 with 328 million monthly subscribers after adding 9 million new monthly users during the quarter.

Weibo is a Twitter clone that operates in China, a market out of bounds for Twitter, Facebook (FB), and Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google. As such, Weibo can be seen as filling the gap created by the absence of Twitter in China. Weibo is backed by Tencent (TCEHY), a competitor of Baidu (BIDU).

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Weibo shedding the clone title

Weibo is growing so quickly that Twitter could end up looking like its clone. The chart above compares how monthly active users of Twitter and Weibo have compared since 1Q16.

Weibo’s revenues in 1Q17 increased 67.0% year-over-year to $199.2 million, while Twitter’s revenues for the same period declined 7.8% to $548.3 million.

Cause for concern for Snap

By overtaking Twitter in terms of users, Weibo is proving that a copycat app can end up being more successful than the original. That could come as a chilling reality check for Snap investors who have recently seen Facebook mimicking popular Snapchat features.

Features such as Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, and the disappearing photos feature WhatsApp can be traced to Snapchat. But they are now gaining popularity outside Snapchat.

With the Weibo report, it seems that Snap investors may need to come to grips with the fact that originality doesn’t always guarantee success. For example, Instagram last updated that more than 200 million subscribers used its Stories daily, which is higher than the 166 million daily active users on Snapchat.

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