[THE INVESTOR] Guangzhou, CHINA -- Zhang Xiaolong, 49-year-old WeChat and Foxmail creator, barely gives an interview to the media. But once a year, he stands in front of thousands of developers, partners and fans to talk about the previous year and kickstart the new year.
This time at WeChat Open Class Pro 2019, Zhang, also known as Allen, appeared to be determined to share his thoughts, maybe because the year 2019 marks the eighth anniversary of WeChat, the most auspicious number in China, or because of a major upgrade to the app for the first time in four years.
WeChat and Foxmail creator Zhang Xiaolong speaks at WeChat Open Class Pro 2019 on Jan.9 in Guangzhou.
To reflect WeChat’s influence on the users and the scope its services covers, it took for Zhang, who enjoys Steve Jobs-like fame in China, four hours until almost midnight on Jan. 9 to talk about the immensely popular app and all major services including the Mini Programs, Mini Games, WeChat for Corporate, WeChat Pay and searches.
Zhang said Mini Games are generating handsome profits but said he’s not satisfied with it because there are not many original games. He urged people who don’t have experience in making games to create them as many of the most popular games are created by someone who do not have prior experience.
He praised WeChat Pay, saying it is improving user experience without their realization.
The newest WeChat version is version 7.0. Introduced four years after version 6.0, the newest one reflects major changes or the ambition of the company. The version 7 features Instagram’s Stories-like functions. It allows users to share 15-second videos, a popular trend in China, which disappear after 24 hours. The company hopes this new version featuring Time Capsule function serves as a momentum for WeChat’s growth as it did when it introduced voice call function in its version 2.0 in May 2011 and started supporting videos in its version 6.0 in 2012.
“Videos are replacing photos in communication because they can convey more meanings,” Zhang said.
He also added that this would provide substitutes for users who do not want to feel the pressure.
Zhang said more and more users share their daily lives on its Moments, a Facebook feeds-like function, with 750 million people entering the function, or 10 times per user, every day. But people seem to post only positive aspect of lives and he wanted users to be more free as the function gives some social pressure to users.
By Park Ga-young (email@example.com)