Lizhi (立知) a new media aggregating app from Tencent has been taken down from app stores just a day after launching, in the wake of outcry over its similarities to another app, Jike. Yet Jike’s CEO entered the fray to point out that Tencent is one of their investors and that this was merely a little misunderstanding.

App store image of the Lizhi app (Image credit: pc6.com)

Could this be Tencent’s fastest failure? After launching on Jan 31, Tencent withdrew the beta of Lizhi from app stores on the afternoon of Feb 1, apparently after a widespread outcry on social media accusing Tencent of copying the functions and features of If Tech’s Jike (即刻). Both apps offer a news curation function where users rank news to create a personalized feed, a little like Toutiao but with more user control. According to reports (in Chinese), Tencent said the withdrawal is due to public opposition and is a temporary measure while the app is modified.

Jike CEO Wa Nen’s comment on his WeChat Moments (Image credit: 36kr)

Companies aping the apps of another is nothing new. What is unusual, however, about this case is that Jike’s CEO Wa Nen went on to WeChat (owned by Tencent) to say in his Moments:

“Thank everyone for your concern. Tencent is our investor and has always been extremely helpful toward us. Tencent’s investment, business and legal departments are all exceptionally friendly and professional. The Lizhi team has been in touch with us, [but] with a lack of communication there were some misunderstandings, [and all this] really isn’t Tencent’s style. I hope people don’t go on reporting on this and let Jike continue to get on with making good products. Competition makes our company work better.”

Tencent founder Pony Ma commented on Wa’s entry: “Thank you.”

Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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