Steven Millward
Steven Millward
5:53 pm on Feb 25, 2013

Tencent WeChat America office

Tencent (HKG:0700), makers of the popular WeChat messaging app, is to open an office in America this year as the Chinese company focuses on taking WeChat global. This was confirmed by Tencent corporate development group vice president Zhang Xiaolong in an email to employees this morning and which was seen by Caijing.

The paper says that the new US branch will be a customer relations department for WeChat, which has over 300 million users.

WeChat – known as Weixin to Chinese users – first went global in April 2012 when the English branding was created. As you can see in the graph below, that seems to have accelerated WeChat’s growth even further, though Tencent has never released figures for the numbers of overseas users. However, Justin Sun, director of international WeChat operations at Tencent, told us last year that WeChat is seeing a growing ratio of overseas users and is proving to be a hit in Southeast Asia, America, and across the Middle East.

Tencent already has offices for its gaming operations in San Francisco; it’s not clear if the new office will be nearby – or precisely when it’ll open. We’ve reached out to Tencent at Shenzhen HQ and will update if we hear back [UPDATED:] who tell us: “We recently put together a small project team for WeChat to study the US market and explore future potential opportunities.”

WeChat is up against established messaging apps like Whatsapp, as well as a host of innovative Asian-made rivals. Aside from messaging, WeChat has a feature called Moments that allows users to share albums of photos and other things, making it a challenger to Path and Facebook as well. The biggest rival app out of Asia is NHN Japan’s Line app, which is also expanding aggressively into overseas markets.

Here’s WeChat’s growth in users thus far:

WeChat app growth to 300 million users


  • Pisces

    Do they really think they can win whatsapp?

    • Steven Millward

      @Pisces already won in terms of sheer numbers – though that number is skewed towards Chinese users. across Asia as a whole, surely Line, KakaoTalk, WeChat, and some others (eg Viber) are already badly hurting Whatsapp.

  • DWC

    I’d also add – they don’t need to just “think” when they have the existing user base and the Tencent war chest. It will still take quite a bit of time though (for social chat as a whole) as plenty of people of the U.S. haven’t even come around to WhatsApp.

  • Juan Bravo

    This is fantastic news fox is all about communication that is excellent for all with China…Good luck and a wonderful Day

  • chatter

    If you have the same friend over few messaging apps, usually which apps will you use to text them when your quite busy. I usually use whatsapp maybe due to its simplicity? The other apps only comes in when I’ve lots of time. What about you guys?

  • Dakafei

    The only way I can see WeChat really winning in the US is if they somehow can convince US developers to connect to their open platform. The real strength of WeChat in China now is its ability to share content from other 3rd party apps in a frictionless and very mobile focused way (ie. Dianping, QQ Music, etc.). If they get some big guys on board such as Yelp and Spotify before Facebook Messenger figures out a way to integrate them they might have a unique value proposition for their users. Its all about the value-add.

  • Michael

    Much of WC’s success in china – as with other tencent offerings – has been tied to its massive QQ user base. That is not to say WC is not a good app, just that they will find it way more difficult to create simIlar groundswell in the US

    • Steven Millward

      @Michael WeChat doesn’t require a QQ account, so its success in China is not really down to that kind of convenience or accidental usage (in contrast to Tencent Weibo, I suspect). But WeChat could benefit from being made by a company that’s well-known to everyone in China. As you say, it’s out all alone in other markets with no brand name to help it.

  • Janice

    Everyone can communicate with people all over the world then

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