What Can Allen Zhang’s 2,359 “Tweets” On Fanfou.com Tell Us?
摘要： Recntly, the Fanfou account of Allen Zhang, head of Tencent’s WeChat Business Group and “the founder of WeChat”, was revealed to public. Altogether, 2359 tweets he wrote from 2010 to 2012 were widely-circulated on the Chinese Internet. Recntly, the Fanfou account of Allen Zhang, head of Tencent’s WeChat Business Group and “the founder of WeChat”, was revealed to public. Altogether, 2359 tweets he wrote from 2010 to 2012 were widely-circulated on the Chinese Internet. Allen was known to have always been keeping a low profile and seldom appeared in public. These tweets, however, revealed to us a real man who loves making jokes, writing short poems, who makes harsh judgments as well as develops industry insights every now and then. Hopefully, these tweets may help us better understand Mr. Allen as well as the story behind WeChat’s success, which is less known by the public.
WeChat, with 650 million monthly active users as of 2015, has grown to become the number one instant message tools in China within five years. At the beginning of 2016, Mr. Allen delivered a speech on WeChat Open Class Pro Version 2016 and revealed that they were planning to launch App Account service soon. Not long after this public appearance, Deng Ke, a user on Zhihu (a question-and-answer platform similar to Quora), revealed to public for the first time the diary of Mr. Allen on Fanfou.com.
On November 26th, 2016, Mr. Allen signed up an account called “gzallen” on Fanfou.com, the earliest version of Twitter in China (which was replaced eventually by Weibo). On April, 9th, 2012, the last “tweet” was posted and he stopped updating the account. Throughout this period, 2,359 “tweets” were posted by Mr. Allen.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Allen has more than one account on Fanfou.com. As early as June, 2007, he already signed up an account called “allen” on Fanfou.com and posted 454 “tweets” in total. He signed up the account “gzallen” the second day after Fanfou.com was allowed to resume providing services. From then on, he posted 2,359 “tweets” in total, while WeChat was also updated from 1.0 to 4.0.
Without Deng Ke, nobody would have realized that “gzallen” would be the account of Mr. Allen himself, the very person who led his core team and developed WeChat, a social networking service with 650 million monthly active users. From these tweets, we get to know what Mr. Allen thought when he started to develop WeChat and the story behind WeChat’s success, which is less known by the public.
After reading through all these 2,359 “tweets”, Deng Ke, the very person who revealed the account to public, commented that:
I see a person who is complete, free and real. Allen is good at communicating with others and expressing his feelings and thoughts in words. He enjoys writing short poems and making up jokes and can be really cute sometimes. Of course, he also make harsh judgments sometimes, as every normal people would. No matter how successful and popular WeChat is, its founder is always one that is calm, insightful and dedicated to his cause.
Hecaitou, the person who convinced Mr. Allen into opening an account on Fanfou.com, commented:
Were there a new app in the world, you might encounter Mr. Allen if you find an account called “allen” when you also wanted to have a try, download the app and sign up within 48 hours.
After some research, we find that Mr. Allen used the Album Cover of Leonard Cohen’s Recent Songs as his head portrait of the Fanfou account “gzallen”.
The following is the English translation of all his 2,359 “tweets” on Fanfou.com. Hopefully, we can better understand the story behind WeChat’s success from these “tweets”.
No cigarette. Go to bed.
“gzallen” is actually a robot.
When my IQ is high, my EQ will be low; when my EQ is high, my IQ will be low. If both my EQ and IQ were high, then I will be “double high”.
How I wish to acquire the voice of Leonard Cohen when I am old.
I saw Hecaitou’s inside story about Tencent today, and he seemed to really want to visit me, referring to me as “a bloody awesome man”.
I never lose when playing “Rock, scissors, paper”.
I’m not only developing a product, but also making the best use of my freedom.
If you ask me what’s the difference between us and our rivals, I shall say that we never include functions or services that look fancy but mean no big deal.
If a product can be developed to meet users’ needs to escape from life and the needs for vanity, a sense of belonging, and even greed, then why can’t we just develop a product that can “torture” our users since they might also have the needs to be tortured sometimes?
I was amazed by the power of the crowd via the function Drift Bottle. The user behavior this function led to was far beyond our expectations. To be honest, even I myself can’t totally understand the possible effect of such function. But fundamentally, this function should be able to meet the needs of our users to make new friends and to be responded. (WeChat’s feature “Drift Bottle” allows users to send virtual drifting bottles attached with voice/text messages. The virtual bottles get picked up by another random WeChat user is likely to initiate new conversations and bridge new friendship.)
How an Internet product should look like should be determined by the crowd, not the product manager. What a competent product manager should do is promote the process a little bit, and nothing else. Fanfou.com's developers have set up a very good example for us, since nothing changed on Fanfou.com except for the word "Beta" added to its interface, which really suit me.
Circulation is replacing content itself, since content is downsizing to micro-content so that it is easier and more convenient to spread. MP3s are replacing vinyl records, Sino Weibo is replacing books, text messages are replacing mail. I doubt if the day will come when even micro-content will disappear, and people will directly exchange hormones via the Internet.
When I am using Fanfou.com, I say what I should say on Fanfou.com; when I am using Sina Weibo, I say things appropriate on Weibo; when I am in office, I say things I should say in office. I dare not speak out what I really think about anymore, since ideas and thoughts are created by the environment.
For so many years, I am still developing an instant messaging tool. Thus, I do believe that there is a destiny for every one of us, and the destiny for a kid who are not good at communication is to help others better communicate with each other.
to be a better man
Why can I get up so early? Because…
I like not only developing new product, but also competition and fighting.
It’s hard to succeed, and even harder to accept the fact that coincidence plays a huge role in whether one succeeds or not.
Steve Jobs’s words “Think different!” often occurred to me when I don’t know what to do, but I’m not as smart as he is, so I won’t go extremes because of that.
After finding a product manager professionally-qualified on all terms, I would continue to ask if he or she loves rock music. If the answer is “No”, I won’t recruit him or her either.
I’m not ??? in life, but quite particular about all the details when developing products. I guess this is what people call “schizophrenic”.
Hardly can I tell others what hardship I have been through.
When Internet wasn’t as widespread as today, a product can stand out through multiple functions; when Internet has already been widespread, only products that provide only a limited number of key functions can survive. Small is beautiful, isn’t it?
A product that is predicted to be successful is destined to fail. The success of a product can not be predicted, at least by human mind. In the future, machines might be able to do that. (“Shake to add friends” is a popular feature on WeChat in the early days of the app and is renewed during the last Spring Festival Gala in 2016 by combining with Red Envelope function.)
Developing products is like falling love with users, since you have to understand what users want most and meet their needs,
The flowers will bloom and wither periodically, and this vow unfulfilled won’t be regretted for aye. (I tried my best to make these two sentence sound rhyme)
Yesterday’s stories will ultimately become jokes, today’s flowers will be exposed in the wind and rain.
This door, this day, last year. Look back, smile, and smile back.
The endless cycle of the spring flower and the autumn moon will come to an end, the winter worm and the summer grass (Chinese caterpillar fungus) are forever.
Some people once said: Those you are strongly against must be those you yourself also have.
Although you might sit a few meters away from me, your posts have to be transferred across China, progressed by over 200 CPUs and then appeared on my timeline. This is what distance really means.
Ancient Chinese love the moon, the night, while contemporary Chinese love the sun, the day. Ancient Chinese often express their feelings via the moon, while contemporary Chinese express their feelings every day.
I wonder how powerful one have to be in order to see through the world.
The moon represents my heart, but what if an unintended pregnancy occurs? Do not pick the roadside flowers, but what if an unintended pregnancy occurs? Do not break the rules and principles, but what if an unintended pregnancy occurs? Pairs of birds are singing on the tree, but what if an unintended pregnancy occurs?
If “Swifter, higher and stronger” is the spirit of the Olympics, then “Swifter, higher and Farther” should be the spirit of grasshoppers.
People who are sentimental tend to be more aware of unkind things, while people who are detail-oriented tend to see more details.
Cuteness is the new first productivity.
While users are free do use any app they like, developers have to spend all day analyzing, predicting what users like or not, impress users more and restrict themselves from telling it frankly.
How many functions should be added to make an app useless?
The moment I feel less accomplished is when I find it is so easy to develop a popular function. Even if we make a simple game, for example, throwing stones competition, many users will participate. If we add a new function to the game and rank participants’ score by province, city and district, even more users will participate.
Leader who always talk about becoming KPIs and setting their goals around being a KPI are vulgar, annoying, unimaginative and not competent.
I agree. Please all the departments carry out this policy. //Reposted from @Hecaitou: I suggest that a company should fire those employees who volunteered to voice their opinions in all the meetings that the boss will attend and reply all the emails that are copied to the boss, since every other employee will be able to glad to see that.
Use your wildest imagination: suppose there is a website. Its data is stored on the moon, while its server is established on a satellite, which is solar-powered and in function for at least 100 years. Would you like to use this website to store any information you want to store?
Every time I receive a push that says “This action has been completed successfully” or “This message has been sent successfully”, I get really annoyed by the word “successfully”. Although I told my team many times to remove this word, it still appeared. Today, I order my team to permanently remove “successfully” from our product. You might say that I was too particular with words and went to extremes. Well, I shall defend myself here: push that says things such as “This message has been sent successfully” will make me think that there are messages that were unsuccessfully, which is never possible.
When I see so many copycats of Kik, I doubt if there are any product manager who cares what Chinese users think about in China. They are good at copying, not bringing out real innovation.
One can make an app out of every kind of needs and relationship of the crowd. In the future, every individual must be users of at least ten products at the same time.
I kept imagining a picture where two trains are going to pass by and two WeChat users swapped their WeChat ID by taking out and shaking their smartphones. We can actually make an ad out of it.
Contacts of any Internet product should be added by users themselves, not transferred in batches.
The ultimate goal of the Internet is to rid the Chinese business world of the relationship-driven businesses, or Guanxi in Chinese.
I agree. //Reposted from @Hecaitou: Be aware of product managers whose blogs are great because the more time they spend writing blogs, the less time they focus on their products. I used to believe that there could be exceptions, but unfortunately now it seems that there are no exceptions.
The majority of so-called innovation only makes an existing problem more complicated.
On Sina Weibo
“Sina Weibo makes people stupid,” a friend of mine also said. Well, for me, Weibo itself won’t necessarily makes people stupid.
People are the reflection of their environment. Of course, Sina Weibo can be called a kind of “environment”, yet this environment doesn’t wish to influence people of its own accord. When I say “influence”, I mean that people have to be “influenced” when the environment changes, not when they look around on Weibo and decide what to do.
If hell is other people, then Sina Weibo is another hell.
Although it seems that Weibo is very popular and successful today, it is actually deeply flawed.
You have to pretend to be a better self and “put on your clothes” on Sina Weibo, yet you can have a rest and put off your clothes on Fanfou.com.
I am amazed that Kaifu Lee can write so thick a book on Sina Weibo, titled “Weibo Changed Everything”.
If we compare both Sina Weibo and Fanfou.com to a piece of film that adopts the montage theory, then Weibo is much more fancy and gaudy, while Fan.com is more down-to-earth.
It is easier to find true feelings on Fanfou.com, while people enjoy laughing at others’ sufferings and showing off more on Sina Weibo.
Sina lost a great opportunity: it could have developed a product similar to WeChat.
All of a sudden, I understand why Sina Weibo users have to receive a pop-up window when they follow new Weibo accounts: Weibo’s developers aim to keep the timeline of Weibo users clear and simple and guide users not to follow too many Weibo accounts by annoying them.
Every time I see people on Zhihu.com wonder why the first picture they see when they open WeChat is a little man with the earth, I can’t stop laughing.
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Special Picks, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.