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Alex Zhu proved that you don’t need to be Facebook to become a social media hit

Zhu is No. 79 on the Recode 100.

Turns out Facebook and Google aren’t the only companies capable of building (or buying) successful mobile apps.

Alex Zhu’s, a music video and lip-synching app popular with teenagers, was acquired by the Chinese internet firm Toutiao for more than $800 million this year. That’s a sweet payday for Zhu, who founded just three years ago, and may give hope to other consumer app startups (and their investors) trying to create a mega-hit in today’s mobile environment dominated by big internet giants.

While sold, in part, because the company’s user growth was starting to lag, the big-time exit is also proof that consumer apps can reach a significant scale despite Facebook and Google claiming most of the internet’s attention — and in Facebook’s case, copying or buying anything that might be a threat.

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