Alibaba's Jack Ma to dump WeChat service in favour of 'own baby' Laiwang

Alibaba's Ma urges friends to join him on smartphone messaging app Laiwang

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 11:51am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 4:35pm

Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma Yun has officially declared war on Tencent’s Wechat.

Days after demanding his employees collect at least 100 external contacts by the end of November on Laiwang, Alibaba's smartphone messaging application, Ma said yesterday that he would shut down his Wechat account to “nurse his own baby”, China’s technology blog Huxiu reported. 

Ma compared Laiwang to the “second child” in the messaging app family who has drawn criticism and pessimistic views since its "birth".

“We don’t expect this child to excel like his brother [Wechat], but we expect this child to be ambitious and unique, and he should never stop learning," he said.

"He should work out his own future. We believe this world needs more than one child because we all know the problems of the one-child policy.”  

Ma pleaded with his friends to endorse his efforts by adding him on Laiwang.

“I need to work for my bonus too,” he wrote. ”Your support will make this child understand the meaning of perseverance and boost his confidence in challenging his brother.”

Ma had said earlier in an internal memo that those who did not hit the “100 contacts” target would lose their bonus.

The strategy seemed have worked as the report said Laiwang gained more than 5 million new users on Tuesday alone.

On Wednesday, Alibaba posted on its official hiring Weibo account some of the funny messages their employees sent to friends after Ma urged workers to collect external contacts.

“I will be posting high-quality movie seeds on my Laiwang account- will you please add me?,” said one message.

“I am posting my bikini photos taken during my honeymoon on Laiwang,” wrote another employee.

“Installing Laiwang is the most spectacular charity event in the IT industry,” said another post, “Please join this charity and add me on Laiwang."

“I had lunch at Alibaba's café today and was surrounded by employees who wanted to add me on Laiwang,” a non-Alibaba employee wrote. "If you want to be treated like a superstar, go to Alibaba."

Laiwang, launched last December, offers similar text and voice chat features to Wechat. However before this week it had drawn just one million users since its launch. Wechat claims to have more than 400 million users.