The WeChat Ecosystem: Unleashing the Potential of the Long Tail to Stay Innovative

Guo Bai, Luis Liu

Research output: Other contributionCase Studies


This case illustrated the business ecosystem of WeChat from two perspectives. From an external perspective, the WeChat ecosystem was part of Tencent’s overall ecosystem. Using this perspective, the case examined the external relationships between the WeChat ecosystem and the external environment. Looking closely, the various parties collaborating on the WeChat platform formed an ecosystem. From an internal perspective, the case examined the internal relationships within the WeChat ecosystem. The platform was not a closed, impenetrable ecosystem. Expertise, resources, and value could flow in and out, enabling sharing and exchanges. However, it was not entirely open. Certain boundaries protected the independence and distinctiveness of the WeChat ecosystem. As a result, participants better suited to the nature of the WeChat ecosystem would thrive. Externally, WeChat was born with the mission of delivering Tencent’s new strategy to encourage openness and sharing, representing Tencent’s determination to change after its former core product, QQ, was accused of monopolistic behavior. Apart from serving the more extensive “Tencent ecosystem,” WeChat was also developing its own ecosystem. The two systems supported and empowered each other. Internally, WeChat helped various types of participants find their most appropriate roles within WeChat. Through product and function design, capacity empowerment, resource channeling, and rulemaking, WeChat ensured there was room for key enterprises, users, distributors, suppliers, and even competitors. All parties would find their proper places. In this newly established value network, WeChat would help capital, information, and traffic flow in an orderly manner. Different parties could seek monetization and exchange value to sustain their survival, co-exist with others, and contribute to a symbiotic environment. As traffic from individual users peaked, the WeChat ecosystem witnessed a shift toward corporate clients starting in 2017. Such a 2B strategy, however, invariably encountered bottlenecks. A few top players absorbed most of the traffic. WeChat faced the challenge of keeping innovation alive and vibrant within its ecosystem while balancing the development of various parties.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022

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Case normative number


Case type

Field Case

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Published by

China Europe International Business School


  • Wechat (Weixin)
  • WeChat
  • Business ecosystem
  • ecosystem
  • innovation
  • platform
  • anti-monopoly
  • Theory of Jobs to Be Done

Case studies discipline

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Operations & Management Science
  • Strategy

Case studies industry

  • Information, Media & Telecommunications
  • Other Services


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