On January 9th, the 2020 WeChat Open Course was held in China’s southern city of Guangzhou. The event covered a wide range of topics including mini-programs, corporate WeChat, mini-games, WeChat payment, AI, QR code economy, smart retail, smart travel, smart education and smart dining.
This year, Allen Zhang, founder of WeChat, did not attend the conference in person. He said in a video speech, “I chose not to show up intentionally. Remember the first open course, I used to say that participating in various meetings can be a waste of time. We need to talk with our products.”
In his speech, Zhang shared seven thoughts on the interconnection of information, including the exposure of privacy, the passive access to information, the expansion and complexity of social relationships, the rapid spread of information, the difficulty of selecting information, the diversity of information, and the difficulty of searching.
Zhang underscored the need to expand the limit on the number of friends on WeChat. “There’s an academic term, Dunbar’s number, which refers to the number of people a person could maintain stable social relationships with, setting a maximum at 150. But on WeChat, this rule was clearly broken,” said Zhang. “Compared with the pre-mobile Internet era, people’s ability to maintain friends has increased drastically. Previously, we limited one user to a maximum of 5,000 friends, and now there are nearly one million people that have up to 5,000 friends. It urges us to expand the number of friends one user can have on WeChat.”
Zhang also mentioned two errors made in the early days of WeChat. One is the WeChat public account platform. For a long time, it only supported creation on computers, which severely constrained content creators. Secondly, the founding team accidentally turned the platform into merely a carrier for articles and a tool for media publications, which limited the style of content published.
“The reason that users could post photos and videos on WeChat moments in the first place was that I knew it was not easy for one billion people to write texts to people, but everyone could send pictures. But as for WeChat public accounts, we lack an instrument allowing everyone to create content, because we can’t ask everyone to write articles every day,” Zhang said in the video.