a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Stickers! Filters! Memes! Livestreams!

Connie Chan, Christina Xu, and Sonal Chokshi

Posted October 12, 2016

From glittery reaction gifs modded by grandparents to rage faces on Reddit, stickers (gifs and other layered images) and emotive “biaoqing” have taken over messaging culture in China and beyond. Stickers are tied to filter culture, too — whether originating in real life as purikura photo sticker booths in Japan or digitally as Snapchat filters.

Why are these forms of social communication so popular? Because sometimes you just want to say “I feel totally Nicki Minaj side-eye dot-GIF about this”, and no one can give a side-eye as good as Nicki Minaj can. But it’s not just about isolated expressions, celebrity stickers like Kimoji, or personalized bitmoji; stickers are shaping and codifying the way people talk to each other online in new and multi-layered ways.

It’s even connected to mobile livestreaming, a phenomenon that’s taking off in China right now, in the most mundane (food eating streams) to subversive (seductive banana eating streams) ways. And how are all these memes tied to monetization and payments? In this episode of the a16z Podcast, ROFLCon co-founder and human-centered researcher/writer Christina Xu and Connie Chan in conversation with Sonal Chokshi take us on a wild tour of cultural messaging memes and messaging tech in China and beyond.