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After Jack Ma’s iron fist memo, Alibaba’s chat app Laiwang gains 5 million users in one day

Josh Horwitz

Reports have surfaced in the Chinese media this week covering rumblings in the Alibaba headquarters over the company’s evolving mobile strategy as the new year approaches.

First, Sina Tech reports current Alibaba CEO Jonathan Lu held a company wide meeting last Friday in which he declared that Alibaba’s resources over the next year would be devoted the mobile space: in particular, Taobao’s mobile services, the Laiwang messaging app, the Aliyun mobile service, and an as-yet unannounced O2O (online-to-offline) service.

Later, word got out that Jack Ma, chairman and former CEO of Alibaba, issued an internal memo stating that if Alibaba employees that if they didn’t each accumulate 100 non-Alibaba affiliated contacts in their Laiwang app, they wouldn’t receive a red envelope (one traditional Chinese form of a work bonus).

Chinese media reports say they’ve yet to receive confirmation from Alibaba, and we’ve reached out to the company for a statement as well.

If Alibaba is to be trusted, and if the memo was indeed sent out, it appears to have been at least somewhat successful. Today, Sina Tech issued a report stating that on Tuesday, one day after the memo was issued, over five million new users registered for Laiwang. This was apparently fueled by Alibaba employees who flooded Sina Weibo, WeChat, and QQ spreading the gospel of Laiwang to their friends. Let’s hope that everyone gets a red envelope.

Alibaba Laiwang messaging app revamp

Of course, no matter the case, Laiwang (pictured above) faces tough competition from Tencent’s WeChat messaging app, which currently has over 230 million monthly active users.  Latecomers like China Telecom’s Yixin and Sina’s WeMeet are also bidding for the attention of Chinese smartphone owners.

(top Image via Flickr user jaboney)

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