SINGAPORE: Mobile messaging apps Line and Kakao Talk are busy trying to conquer overseas markets such as Southeast Asia and India. But they may do well to keep a close eye on their home turf of Japan and South Korea as China’s WeChat amasses more users. Among six messaging apps, WeChat saw the biggest upptick in usage in Japan and South Korea last month versus a year earlier, boosted by its gaming, e-commerce and multimedia capabilities, according to data on Android smartphones tracked by Mobidia.
In a shock move, China’s two biggest taxi-hailing apps, Kuaidi Dache and Didi Dache, earlier today announced their merger. It’s surprising not only because the new company will have an almost total monopoly on the market, but also because it’s a very rare instance of a partnership between Alibaba and Tencent, two of China’s three biggest web giants.
As China’s massive Spring Festival holiday approaches, the folks at Tencent WeChat have been busy pressing the delete key on links between their app and a number of Alibaba services. First, Sina Tech reported that WeChat had shut down a sharing like with Alibaba’s Alipay that allowed Alipay users to send digital Spring Festival red envelopes of money to WeChat friends. Now, it appears WeChat has also shut down sharing connections with Alibaba music apps Xiami and Tiantian Dongting, meaning users can no longer share content from those apps directly with their WeChat friends.
The funding round was confirmed today to be worth US$350 million, with the investment contributed by CITIC, Tencent, JD, Dianping, and Sequoia China. Tencent binds a lot of this together as it owns a 15 percent stake in JD and a 20 percent stake in the Yelp-like Dianping. This move could result in Ele.me’s food ordering service being integrated into Dianping and/or Tencent’s WeChat messaging app. The headline has been amended with the new information. The original article from January 13 is unchanged below.)
Just a few days after testing ads in the WeChat timeline, Tencent has brought WeChat advertising live. Regular ads in the service began appearing in users’ timelines over the weekend, and among the first ones to pop up were advertisements for global brands BMW and Coca-Cola. Chinese smartphone maker Vivo also has ads on the service. It’s no surprise that global brands are interested in getting in on the ground floor of WeChat advertising. The service current boasts nearly 500 million active users, and it continues to grow.
Chinese developer Dalian Wanda Group’s e-commerce unit is expected to begin operations later this year. The company is taking a different approach to competing with the industry leader Alibaba, reports Guangzhou’s Time Weekly. Following Wanda’s initial public offering in Hong Kong on Dec. 23, the largest in Asia in 2014, the property developer was once again in the news when its e-commerce unit received investments worth 1 billion yuan (US$161 million) from two investment funds on Jan. 4.
BEIJING: China’s Xiaomi Inc has agreed to buy about 3 percent of software firm Kingsoft Corp Ltd from Tencent Holdings Ltd for HK$527 million ($67.99 million), according to a Kingsoft filing on Monday. The deal with Xiaomi, the world’s third-biggest smartphone maker, is expected to close on January 30, the filing to the Hong Kong exchange said. Chinese social networking and video game giant Tencent will still hold 9.6 percent of Kingsoft.
This time last year, popular messaging app WeChat launched an online personal investment fund for its users in China. It allows people to get better interest rates for their savings than from banks. Now WeChat’s maker, Tencent, has revealed that the wealth fund has 10 million users who’ve banked a total of RMB 100 billion, which is US$16.2 billion. That amounts to an average of US$1,610 for each user.
Chinese Internet company Tencent and Sony Music Entertainment jointly announced a strategic cooperation agreement under which Tencent will exclusively manage Sony Music’s online music service in mainland China. No financial details of the agreement were released. Basing on the agreement, Tencent will recommend Sony Music’s artists on its QQ music streaming media website and other platforms.
Today Wanda Group, the Chinese commercial real estate firm best known for its movie theater chains, announced that its joint ecommerce venture with Tencent and Baidu closed a RMB 1 billion (US$161 million) funding round. The two investment funds, Xude Rendao and Centec Networks, will take 2 percent and 3 percent equity in the company, respectively. Wanda Group states that Tencent and Baidu now each hold a 15 percent stake in the venture, which is now valued at RMB 20 billion (about US$3.2 billion).
[SHANGHAI] Chinese Internet giant Tencent, operator of the popular messaging app WeChat, has launched an online bank, a state-backed newspaper said Monday, as the government seeks to foster private lenders. The online bank, called WeBank, will be fully Internet-based with no physical branches, the China Daily newspaper said. WeBank, approved by regulators in July, made its first loan at the weekend, although its formal opening is planned for April, the report said.
Re/code, the tech blog that’s home to All Things D emigres Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, is now available in Chinese. This comes as part of an exclusive partnership with web giant Tencent, which now has a Chinese-language Re/code site as part of its Tech QQ portal. See it here. The deal was announced on both Tech QQ and Re/code, but the terms of the deal are not disclosed.
Tencent today launched the website for what will likely be the first ever private internet bank in the People’s Republic of China. China began a trial program early this year that would allow five new private banks to be set up. Web giants Alibaba and Tencent signed up, and the maker of WeChat looks to be first out of the gate. The new WeBank website reads (translation ours): Are we a bank? Are we an internet company? We are an internet bank!
Change is the only constant in today’s fast paced world of technology, so companies who seek to stay ahead will need keep on reinventing themselves. “You cannot rest on your laurels within the technology space,” says Lau Seng Yee, president of online media and senior executive vice president of Tencent Holdings. “Companies that embrace change in a positive way will be able to capture the new opportunities that come with it.” This ability and willingness to adapt to change is what he calls “digital Darwinism”.
Tencent is China’s second-biggest internet company, recently stripped of its number one spot by Alibaba. It’s also one of the country’s most active venture capitalists. While Alibaba made headlines with massive investments into big established companies, Tencent got down and dirty with early stage investments into nascent startups.
Chinese social and gaming giant Tencent has recently made an investment in Japanese mobile game developer Aiming, according to a press release posted on Aiming’s site. The total sum Tencent invested has not been revealed, but the agreement also includes a cooperative partnership that will see Tencent distributing Aiming’s games across greater China and Aiming distributing Tencent games (with a non-exclusive license) in Japan.
Wang Juan, chief editor of Tencent’s video business, announced that Tencent is preparing its over-the-top content plans for 2015 by cooperating with license owners and hardware manufacturers. Wang said Internet TV in China is a regulatory focus of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China because smart TVs will become a mainstream platform for video distribution in China.
Yesterday, Alibaba revealed its latest move towards the gaming space: a new social mobile gaming platform called KTplay. Created together with Beijing-based mobile game startup Yodo1, KTplay is a bit like a more robust version of Apple’s Game Center. But that’s not the only move Alibaba has made recently in the gaming space. In August, the company poured $120 million into American game developer Kabam, and it has also experimented with using its ecommerce sites as a platform for game distribution.
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal broke the news that Tencent will be bringing the popular Japanese mobile game Puzzle & Dragons to China next year, “according to a person familiar with the matter.” Does that mean a massive windfall of cash is imminent for the Chinese game publisher? On the one hand, this move may be coming a little late. Puzzle & Dragons was white hot in 2013, but since then its growth has slowed.