Nat Versus the Volcano: Can an AI Investor Solve an Ancient Mystery from the Ashes of Vesuvius?Read more

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to developers Wednesday. Photo by Bloomberg.

What Facebook Should Learn from WeChat

Photo: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to developers Wednesday. Photo by Bloomberg.

Facebook today announced big plans to open up Messenger to developers. This means Facebook wants to make your Messenger inbox as central a communication channel as News Feed.

To start, you’ll be able to send stickers, videos and messages made in other apps through Messenger. And more significantly, you’ll be able to use Messenger, not email or the phone, to communicate with businesses.

Does that sound far out there? Not if you live in China or are friends with people who do. In fact, while watching the f8 keynote this morning, I was surprised by how closely this functionality resembles China’s most popular messaging and networking app, Tencent’s WeChat, which I use on a regular basis and which leaders in the tech industry have been following closely for years.

It makes sense for Facebook to move in this direction. Mobile phones have made messaging a far better way to communicate. One thing that came through loud and clear in the keynote is that Mark Zuckerberg sees many other types of services that can integrate with Messenger, which has 600 million monthly users, over time. “It’s a really exciting big new area and opportunity,” he told developers in San Francisco.

(For those of you wondering what this direction means for Facebook’s efforts to enter China, I think this move is much bigger than tailoring Facebook to Chinese users and doubt it would want to compete head-to-head with WeChat.)

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
OpenAI's Greg Brockman (left) and Google's Demis Hassabis (right). Photos by Getty.
AI Agenda google ai
OpenAI Hustles to Beat Google to Launch ‘Multimodal’ LLM
As fall approaches, Google and OpenAI are locked in a good ol’ fashioned software race, aiming to launch the next generation of large-language models: multimodal.
From left, a Google TPU, Broadcom CEO Hock Tan and Google Cloud chief Thomas Kurian. Photos via Getty, Google and YouTube.
Exclusive google semiconductors
To Reduce AI Costs, Google Wants to Ditch Broadcom as Its TPU Server Chip Supplier
Google executives have extensively discussed dropping Broadcom as a supplier of artificial intelligence chips as early as 2027, according to a person with direct knowledge of the effort.
Flexport founder Ryan Petersen. Photos via Getty and Flexport.
Can Ryan Petersen Fix Flexport?
Ryan Petersen was getting antsy. This March, Petersen had handed over the CEO job at Flexport—the logistics company he’d founded a decade earlier, which had ballooned to an $8 billion valuation in 2022—to veteran Amazon executive Dave Clark.
Photo via Midjourney.
AI Agenda startups ai
The Rise of Startups That Help Other Startups Evaluate LLMs
All but a handful of artificial intelligence startups typically fall into one of two camps. The first group uses a single large-language model, typically OpenAI’s GPT-4, to power their applications.
Photos via Eiso Kant (left) and YouTube/VMWare Tanzu (right)
AI Agenda startups ai
How GitHub Copilot’s Co-Creator Raised $126 Million to Compete with His Former Employer
Recent interest in artificial intelligence has focused on large-language models that aim to do everything from writing Shakespearean poetry to solving math riddles.
Art by Mike Sullivan
entertainment media/telecom
Disney-Charter Deal Could Prompt More Cable TV-Streaming Bundles
Last week, Charter Communications, the No. 2 cable provider, and Walt Disney Co. cut a deal to include Disney streaming services, such as Disney+ and a new ESPN service still in the works, with Charter’s cable television packages.