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Bondee CEO responds to talks about the company’s links to China and the app’s relaunch

Does everyone remember that app called Bondee? Like, the app where you could create avatars, design your own space, and talk to your friends? The app that died down as quickly as it came? Yeah, us too.

Now, it’s actually been relaunched with AR features. Well, except in the Philippines, that is.

But first, Singapore-based tech start-up Metadream wanted to clear out some things, specifically about initial reports about the company and its links to China. While having gone viral within days of its release, the reception to Bondee turned bad following rumors of the app leaking users’ private data.

Bondee's CEO Fei Yu
Bondee’s CEO Fei Yu

Metadream then debunked these claims, all the while emphasizing that Bondee does not ask for users’ credit card or financial data. Then, users began noticing the similarities of Bondee to another (but now defunct) app Zheli, and how Bloomberg had reported that Metadream was registered as a Chinese firm in South Korea.

Because of this, Bondee then seemed to fall off the radar, with downloads lessening by then. In an interview with Channel News Asia (CNA), Bondee CEO Fei Yu clarified the company’s relationship with China and revealed the app’s newest update.

In May 2022, Yu said that Metadream had acquired the IP rights of Chinese tech firm True.ly, who had developed the app Zheli. These acquisitions, as said by Yu, were “common practice” among tech companies.

Following the acquisition of True.ly, developers then moved on to work on Bondee, which may have been the root of the “wrong perception” about the ownership of Bondee. This was timely at the time, as video-sharing platform TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, was facing pressures in the United States due to concerns over privacy and national security.

When asked by CNA about the similarities of the TikTok-Douyin issue to Bondee, CEO Yu said that it was a “different case.” While TikTok and Douyin share the same parent company in China, Bondee’s parent company is based in Singapore.

Moving forward, CEO Yu revealed that Bondee’s largest markets are in Japan and South Korea and that they are in the process of building up a permanent office space in Singapore. The CEO also revealed that the earlier challenges faced by the app had been a learning experience for them in terms of building trust with the app’s users.

Bondee will begin to focus on AR and the possibility of integrating both online and offline spaces, such as Bondee avatars appearing and interacting with real-life locations. The new AR features had already been launched in the app’s existing markets (except the PH).

According to CEO Yu, AR Tech can “bridge the gap that remains to a metaverse fully realized in virtual reality.” “AR is the combination of the real world and the virtual world, and it actually makes the real world richer. Our mission is to inspire real-world discovery and bring enjoyment through exploration,” said CEO Fei Yu.


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