Microsoft founder Bill Gates has opened a personal account on the Chinese social media platform WeChat, greeting Chinese fans in clumsy Chinese in his first post dated on Saturday.
His first foray on the platform was a 30-second video clip. After sending greetings in Chinese, Gates switched to English, saying that the account is his personal blog where he can share the stories of people he meets, the books he's read, and the lessons he's learned. He will also post content ranging from global health issues to energetic innovation, and from educational reform to his reading notes.
The video had already been watched more than 100,000 times as of press time. The Gates account is one of the many that Western celebrities are using to tap into the massive Chinese social media market to better engage with Chinese followers and potential customers.
Physicist Stephen Hawking and Apple CEO Tim Cook both have Sina Weibo accounts, with more than 4 million and 890,000 followers respectively. Gates also has had a Weibo account since 2010 which now has 3 million followers.
Gates' account was opened by a private company, Boruizhi Consulting Company, and has yet to be officially authenticated on WeChat. A shareholder in the company is Global Health Strategies, which has connections to the Bill Gates Foundation. It is not unusual to have personal WeChat accounts run by companies.
Chinese Net users were surprised to see Gates unveiling a personal account. One, nicknamed "maozhebuyongsheng" says he felt much closer to a billionaire now.
Featured in many inspirational Chinese "chicken soup" readings, Gates has been a source of motivation for many in China's younger generations. Net user "youshixiyuan" posted that he will only drink "chicken soup" from Gates in the future. Others joked that perhaps Gates would take advantage of popular WeChat features used to borrow or lend money, or would even send Lucky Money packets to Chinese users.