Qi Junyuan, the former head of Alibaba‘s online storage platform and founder of Teambition, a digital collaboration platform, has recently joined Feishu, an office communications platform operated by ByteDance, 36Kr reported on January 11. Feishu later confirmed the report.
An individual close to Feishu said that Qi will report to Feishu CEO Xie Xin, but the scope of his responsibilities has not yet been determined. Qi founded Teambition in 2011, which is positioned as a lightweight team collaboration tool designed for small and medium-sized enterprises. It has received investment from many top institutions, such as Northern Light, IDG and Gobi China.
After seven years of development, Teambition was acquired by Alibaba for $100 million in 2019. Qi then joined Alibaba‘s Intelligent Cloud Business Group, responsible for several products including Alibaba Cloud’s developer kit, DingTalk’s collaboration kit and online storage platform. In 2021, Qi planned to start a business again after leaving Alibaba Cloud.
The pandemic has brought the collaborative office market into a period of rapid growth. When COVID-19 first broke out, DingTalk and WeCom, which had been established for several years, witnessed a sharp increase in users. For example, the number of WeCom users increased from 60 million to 250 million in just nine months.
Feishu has not grasped these growth opportunities in a significant way. User size and activity are important assessment indicators, and, judging from these two dimensions, Feishu is still far behind DingTalk and WeCom. According to QuestMobile’s data, as of November 2022, the number of monthly users (MAU) of DingTalk, WeCom and Feishu reached 253 million, 110 million and 9.3 million, respectively.
In order to catch up, ByteDance has further invested in Feishu by greatly expanding the team size to over 8,000 in 2022 from over 2,000 in 2021. By contrast, the number of employees at DingTalk is about 1,500, while that at WeCom is only several hundred.
A Feishu employee told 36Kr that the number of team members at Feishu is growing rapidly, but the proportion of middle-level managers is insufficient, especially those who understand enterprises’ needs and can lead teams. Since 2018, ByteDance has made frequent acquisitions and investments in collaboration, documents, conferences and other fields, and it has recruited many founders of startups.
As Feishu constantly adjusts its strategy, it is accompanied by the loss of executives. After Feishu acquired online note-making tool Mubu in 2018, both founders left Feishu in 2021 to start a new business. In 2022, ByteDance acquired the code-free company “Hipa Cloud,” and its founder Chen Jinzhou joined Feishu only a few months later, then left the job. Deng Yunze, the founder of SOMO, an online conferencing tool, who joined Feishu before, has also left the job.
Recently, Jiemian News reported that an internal Feishu meeting showed that profits from its domestic business operations were lagging, and that it would shift its focus to other countries going forward.