I almost forgot that Alibaba developed a mobile messaging app, too. It was December 2011. In January that year WeChat was launched. It’s no wonder Alibaba’s Laiwang, with features such as voice messaging, picture sharing and official account, is a lot like WeChat.

Screenshots of Laiwang for iPhone

It’s unknown whether Alibaba also forgot about it till the launch of EasyChat by NetEase and China Telecom yesterday. Today Jonathan Lu Zhaoxi, CEO of Alibaba, sent an e-mail campaign to all the employees, encouraging them to invite their families and friends to adopt the app and promising cash rewards (A copy of the email).

The one that has the most monthly active contacts by the end of this year will be rewarded with 100, 000 yuan (about $ 16, 000). A dozen of others after the number one will also be rewarded with cash, less than 10,000 though.  The team with the largest number of active contacts on average will be rewarded with unnamed gifts.

Alibaba has over 220,000 employees as of June 2012, disclosed by Lucy Peng, then Chief HR Officer of Alibaba. It’s unknown how many users Laiwang has.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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