Facebook reportedly tried to buy South Korean Snapchat clone Snow over the summer after learning about its popularity in Asia.
The visual messaging app, which both looks and functions like its Western counterpart, has been accumulating tens of millions of downloads across Japan, South Korea, and China throughout the year. It also recently received a financial boost thanks to Japanese messaging giant Line’s $45 million investment in the platform.
Both Snow and Line are owned by South Korean internet company Naver. After hearing of the app’s success, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly contacted Snow’s parent company with an offer, according to sources close to the matter who spoke to TechCrunch. We reached out to Facebook but did not immediately receive a response.
In the wake of Line’s investment, and with over 80 million downloads and counting, Snow is thought to be valued at $180 million. So, why exactly is Facebook reportedly willing to fork out such a large sum for an app that is relatively unknown outside of the West?
While it bears an uncanny resemblance to Snapchat, Snow does boast a few nifty features of its own, including an exhaustive number of graphics and selfie filters (a number of Asian themes among them), and its very own GIF mode.
Primarily, Snow offers Zuckerberg and co. an entry point into Asia, a region where Facebook is still lagging behind rival platforms. The Snapchat clone shot to the top of the app store chart in China (where Facebook is banned) this summer, and has since maintained its popularity. Not to mention the fact that Asian messaging platforms WeChat and Line are both more popular than Facebook with local users.
Facebook has spent the past year experimenting with Snapchat-style features both within its own app, and with the introduction of Stories to Instagram. The latter has been a success, generating 100 million daily views. That’s exactly the type of engagement Facebook craves for its own social network. A similar social sharing feature has been spotted within the company’s Messenger app in Poland and Australia, and within its flagship app in Ireland.