TikTok has found massive success with young users. But increasing scrutiny around its data collection and potential threat to national security has put the app’s future in question. Which raises the question, where those millions of users will go if their favorite app is banned?
If Zak Ringelstein has anything to say about it, they’ll join Zigazoo.
First launched in 2020, the CEO set out to make an app for young children to connect with their peers during the pandemic. Zigazoo was initially intended for kids aged three to 12. Since then, the app has grown the most with 10 to 14-year-olds. And as the uncertainty around TikTok’s future increased in the past year, Ringelstein knew it was time to capture that audience. Which is why the company is switching things up by designating its current platform as Zigazoo Kids and launching a new version of Zigazoo as an app for people 13 and older.
“As the TikTok ban is imminent, we're seeing a huge opportunity to grow what we are doing and to create a really amazing world for an older audience who are looking for something similar,” Ringelstein says.
Zigazoo’s structure takes from both TikTok and Reddit. When someone makes a video, viewers create a thread of video responses in leiu of a traditional comment section. Using a human moderation team, Zigazoo only allows positive emojis and does not support a text comment section—an attempt to combat the negative content that has come to define many other social media platforms.
“If you think about how trolls operate, they can basically sit behind their computer and say a lot of terrible things and comments,” Ringelstein says. “That's oftentimes where I think a lot of social media breaks down.”
The Zigazoo for Gen Z will allow anyone, not just brands or official creators, to start a video thread and will also allow users to message each other. The app is also leaning into specific trends geared toward older users, with sections dedicated to news, sports, fashion, gaming and music. Ringelstein says Zigazoo wants to foster conversations around these topics.
“When I was growing up, the way that we would find information, was through the TV, obviously,” Ringelstein says. “More and more, this generation is looking to social media for their news and for culture.”
Zigazoo is also poaching familiar faces from TikTok and YouTube to join its ranks. Sure, the company is backed by big entertainment names like Jimmy Kimmel and Serena Williams. But part of Zigazoo’s quest to outgrow TikTok is bringing creators behind the scenes through an advisory board of creators who have ownership equity in the company. Charli and Dixie D'Amelio invested in the app’s $17 million funding round last year.
Zigazoo is also hoping creators can bring their audiences from other platforms. TikTok stars like Jack Wright and Hannah Kosh alongside Gen Z actors like Callie Haverda will launch channels on the app. All of these measures, Ringelstein says, are to entice people looking to keep up with their favorite creators, just without the more “toxic” vibes of different social media apps.
“A lot of people are already turned off by what TikTok is offering to them and looking for alternatives, to begin with,” Ringelstein says. “With the ban, there's a huge opportunity for new companies like ours to flourish in this environment.”
- How the TikTok Ban Could Impact LA Employees ›
- TikTok Bans Don't Work. So Why Do Politicians Keep Calling For Them? ›
- TikTok Users Are Finally Talking About the Ban ›