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Snap says its TikTok competitor already has 100 million monthly users

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A surprisingly successful debut

The Snapchat white ghost logo on a bright yellow background. Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Snap says its TikTok competitor, Spotlight, had 100 million users in January 2021, just two months after it launched. The figure would suggest a surprisingly successful debut for the service, which has taken over the rightmost tab inside of Snapchat.

“We’re very pleasantly surprised with the momentum,” Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said on a call with investors this afternoon to discuss the company’s Q4 2020 earnings.

TikTok likely still has a significant lead on the new service, though. TikTok said it had 100 million monthly users in the United States alone as of June 2020, and signs suggest the app has only continued to grow since then. (On the other hand, Instagram’s leader has said he’s “not yet happy with” Reels, its shortform video competitor.)

Snap has put a lot of money behind Spotlight in order to help the section catch on. The company promised to give away $1 million per day to creators for more than a month in order to get people posting videos, filling the service with fun stuff to watch. The initiative seemingly worked, with some creators seeing the service as a quick way to make a lot of cash. Creators are now uploading an average of 175,000 videos per day, Spiegel said in prepared remarks.

“While it is still very early in the development of this new content platform, we are highly encouraged by the initial results and excited about the potential for Spotlight to further expand our monetization opportunity in the future,” Snap CFO Derek Andersen said in prepared remarks.

Now that the service has been seeded with videos, Spiegel said that Snap can start doing more work around optimizing its recommendation system. Ads will come down the road, but for now the company has its “focus on growing engagement.”

Spotlight is still far more limited than TikTok. Exploration options are limited, and you can’t remix sounds or go down a rabbit hole of dance videos to a popular song, both features that have helped TikTok continue to grow.

It’s also worth noting that Snap gave the figure in terms of monthly users when the company has long placed a focus on daily users overall. That suggests the daily usage of the feature is a good amount lower, given that someone only needed to open the tab once in January to be considered a monthly user. Snap now boasts 265 million daily users overall, up from 249 million the prior quarter.

Update February 4th, 6:14PM ET: This story has been updated with remarks from Snap’s earnings call.