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David Lim: WeChat Ticketing App Looks to Partner with Hollywood

December 28, 2015
David Lim, founder and CEO of Weying a WeChat movie ticketing app

David Lim is the founder and CEO of Beijing Weying Technology Co. Ltd., the fastest-growing online ticketing and marketing platform in China, and the exclusive ticket issuer on WeChat – China’s largest social media network – for movies, performances and sports events. Since its debut in May 2014, Weying has built up a sales network in more than 4,500 movie theaters. Selling an average of a million tickets per day, it is sweeping the world’s second-largest film market with its social media integration strategy. He shares the company’s outlook for the future.

Weying is the first of its kind to collaborate with the hugely popular social media networks WeChat and QQ in online ticketing. How did you come up with this social media integration strategy?

In China, social media apps make up 60 percent to 70 percent of total mobile app usage, and roughly half of it comes from WeChat and QQ, so it’s a market with a huge user base. Our research showed us that people nowadays are relying more on social media when deciding which movies or shows to watch; they tend to check out their news feeds and other reviews online before going to the theaters. So we went ahead and created an innovative business model to transform this huge online user base into ticket sales. Tencent [Holdings Ltd.], the largest online entertainment company in China, became one of our investors.

Just like Fandango in the U.S., we are connected to most major theater chains in China. We’ve been helping them optimize their screening schedule with our in-depth data. We can effectively reach audiences through online media promotions and offline advertising in theatres.

How do you integrate entertainment with big data and social media?

We run our own media, including the ticketing platform “Wepiao.” We’ve captured about 25 percent of the online movie ticket sales in China, so we can precisely target this huge group of people who buy movie tickets through us and analyze their purchases. In addition, Tencent granted us access to WeChat users’ news feeds and other apps. Tencent is willing to work with us in developing an entertainment-focused big-data company.

Ultimately we want to build up Weying as a big-data company that focuses on entertainment marketing and distribution. Given our deep roots in social media and expertise in big data, we have the capacity to locate specific types of consumers and launch strategic advertising campaigns. Actually, we’ve participated in the marketing and distribution of several blockbusters in China, such as “Monkey King: Hero is Back,” which raked in almost 960 million yuan at the box office. In addition to their outstanding quality, these movies would not have achieved such significant success without an accurate marketing campaign based on big-data analysis.

Some people worry about the Web’s impact on the traditional film industry. What’s your take on that?

The most important factor remains unchanged, which I think is the quality of the content. However, in the Internet era, any product must be tailored more precisely to customers’ needs. In this aspect, the Internet provides much greater capacity in accessing customers’ data. The data will be leveraged strategically to identify customers’ needs in every step, including production, marketing, distribution, etc. Consequently, the products will improve with the help of data.

What’s Weying’s next move?

We just closed on $234 million in series C funding. We've merged with Gewara, another online ticket sales service, through which we hope to explore more opportunities in distribution and marketing. Our target is to capture 50 percent of the China box office as soon as possible.

Also, we’ve set up our office in California. Hollywood films make up half of the China box office revenue, so this market is becoming more and more important to us. We are looking at potential partnerships with Hollywood companies and hope to work with them at an early stage of movie production and distribution.

As an entrepreneur, what do you think is the key to success for a company in fierce competition?

Strategy is foremost. That includes what core competencies the company wants to have, and how to obtain that through resource integration. Secondly, the team must be able to execute the strategy, especially when raising capital for the company’s development. It’s all empty talk without effective execution. Third, the Chinese market is changing from day to day, so we must be efficient and respond to changes swiftly. Last but not least, companies nowadays should keep an open attitude because the Internet is a cooperative environment where data and users are the core. The more data you share, the more data and resources you will get in return.

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