5 apps Mark Zuckerberg has cloned and how they performed

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July 8, 2023
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3 min read

Threads, the Twitter alternative by Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is one of the most talked about topics on the Internet right now.

In fact, Threads was one of the trending topics on Twitter in Nigeria with over 2 million tweets as of Friday, July 8, 2023.

Threads is not just a direct competition to Twitter, it is what some people have described as a better version of Twitter.

"Thread UI is nice sha, I like it," one Twitter user said.

But whether you like it or not, Threads is growing fast. Per Search Engine Journal, it now has 80 million users, just two days after launch.

Threads is nothing short of a master's stroke by Zuckerberg. But it's not his first time doing something like this.

Here are 5 apps that Zuckerberg has cloned over the years and how they performed.

1. Facebook Dating, a Tinder clone  

Meta announced Facebook Dating, a Tinder clone in 2018. Unlike Tinder, Facebook Dating wanted to eliminate the hook-up culture on dating apps, so it connected users based on shared experiences.

Was it successful?

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In 2020 when Facebook Dating launched in Europe, Meta said it had already made 1.5 billion matches.

However, 30 million matches are made on Tinder every day. By my math, that's about 10 billion matches a year. Interestingly, 57% of Facebook users have never heard of Facebook Dating and only 9% of Facebook users use the platform.

2. Facebook Slingshot: Snapchat clone

In 2013, Zuckerberg offered to buy Snapchat for $3 billion but according to the Wall Street Journal, Snapchat turned down the offer.

Snapchat was only two years old at the time, but the acquisition was important to Zuckerberg because Facebook wasn't getting young users (who mostly constitute daily active users) to sign up on Facebook.

Since Snapchat won't budge, Meta created Slingshot, the Snapchat challenger.

The idea behind it was to break the rule that only 1% of Internet users create content. Users send pictures and videos to each other, which will be replied to with another picture or video

Was it successful?

No, Facebook Slingshot was a dud and was taken off app stores in December 2015. While Snapchat was among the 10 most downloaded apps on iPhone, Slingshot struggled to be in the top 1,000.

3.  Facebook Pay: PayPal clone

Meta launched Facebook Pay in 2019  (rebranded to Meta Pay in 2022) to rival PayPal, an American multi-national digital payment platform with over 360 million active users and four billion transactions in Q3 of 2020 alone.

Meta Pay was created to be a convenient way for people to pay for things across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Once users add a preffered payment method to Meta Pay they won't need need to enter a payment method each time they need to make payments.

Was it successful?

Well, Meta says the payment method is being used by people in over 200 countries, so we can say it is successful. However, compared to PayPal which it was meant to rival, it is hard to say if Meta Pay was actually successful.

There aren't figures on Meta Pay's transaction value of volume, but its key differences from PayPal indicate it can't outperform the American payment giant.

For example, Facebook Pay can't be used outside Facebook; PayPal on the other hand can be used on any platform and even at physical stores.

4.  Facebook Lasso: TikTok clone

Facebook Lasso was Meta's attempt at rivalling TikTok, which was attracting so many young users from China to the US.

Launched in 2018, Lasso was a short-form video app that allowed people to record 15-second videos and overlay them with popular songs.

Was it successful?

Lasso failed woefully.

According to TechCrunch, Lasso struggled to get users. It had fewer than 80,000 daily active users on Android, but iOS users were so few that the number was not even available.

5. Instagram Reels: TikTok clone

Instagram Reels was another attempt by Meta to challenge TikTok's short-form content dominance.

Instagram Reels was introduced in August 2020. Like Lasso, users could record a 15-second video and add multiple effects and audio.

Was it successful?

Instagram Reels was a big hit. Per Demand Sage, 2.35 billion people interact with it every month and it even increased Instagram users. These are apps Mark Zuckerberg has cloned over the years and how they performed, but there are many more that were hit-and-miss. Whether it's cloning apps or building originals, Zuckerberg is the undisputed social media king.


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He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.
He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.
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He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.

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