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Breaking WeChat’s Grip on China’s Social Networks

Imagine if Facebook’s key lieutenants quit to launch a rival product. In China, something like that just happened. Two of the people who helped develop WeChat, the nearly universal chat app run by Tencent, recently created new social networks called Pop and Echo.

It comes amid signs WeChat’s grip over social networking and media consumption in China may not be as total as it once was, leaving openings for newcomers and potentially a more fragmented market. While the new contenders are young, the amount of backing they are getting shows investors believe new social apps more narrowly focused on photo- and video-sharing, where WeChat is less dominant, could pay off.

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'Every social platform has a cycle,' said ZhenFund vice president Justin Guan. 'And WeChat has been around for so many years.'