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Facebook hoping to turn Messenger into the western WeChat with new hire

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Facebook has allegedly made a strategic hire from China’s leading messaging app, WeChat.

Dan Grover — a product manager who has worked for the Chinese messaging giant in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China for the past two years — is apparently making the move to Facebook.

The news was announced on Twitter by Uber employee Chenyu Zen. In her tweet, Zen shared a photo of a cake adorned with the logos of both WeChat, and Facebook, a note below it contained Grover’s name. Zen also shared the following message alongside the image: “Wow! This should be news! FB hired Dan Grover from WeChat … Now all the china knowledge will be with FB?!”

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Dan Grover, via dangrover.com

Dan Grover, via dangrover.com

Grover had previously announced his departure from WeChat, and its parent company Tencent, in a tweet shared last month, reports VentureBeat. He did not reveal where he would be heading next.

It is unclear at this stage what role Grover will assume at Facebook. In the past, he has written extensively about messaging apps, and bots, on his blog. In a couple of highly cited essays, Grover has argued that foreign chat services (such as WeChat) have thrived because they offer all-in-one solutions for OS limitations. In particular, he cites the needless notifications offered up by smartphones, and limited features (such as QR code scanners), memory-draining apps, and problematic payments solutions.

WeChat, on the other hand, offers almost all of these tools, and is viewed as a trendsetter due to its early, successful, adoption of bots. Facebook has tried to emulate its Asian counterpart with its own wildly successful Messenger app, most recently launching bots on the platform.

For WeChat, this all encompassing strategy has worked a charm. The app announced in January — on its fifth anniversary — that it has 650 million global monthly active users.

“Silicon Valley is trying to learn from the success of Asian messenger apps,” states Grover in a recent essay. “This involves a peculiar fixation on how these apps, particularly WeChat, incorporate all sorts of functionality seemingly unrelated to messaging.”

Facebook’s personal fascination with Asian chat platforms could be about to get a real-life boost, thanks to Grover’s arrival, and the hands-on experience he will bring to the social network.