Who’s behind this mysterious Chinese tech publication?

Dot Dot Stand says little about its origins. But Tencent’s fingerprints are all over it.

Screenshot of Dot Dot Stand

Dot Dot Stand appears to be operated by Tencent’s public relations arm.

Screenshot: Protocol

With about 13,000 Twitter followers, Dot Dot Stand looks like a promising new publication covering China’s technology trends. It reports on breaking news, offers data analyses and writes enterprise stories on Chinese tech companies like Tencent, ByteDance and Alibaba. It describes itself as “a third-party tech blog” with no stated institutional affiliations that "hope[s] to provide you with more interesting and insightful Chinese tech news."

But there’s a twist: According to information collected by Protocol, Dot Dot Stand appears to be operated by Tencent’s public relations arm, raising questions about the company’s marketing practices and showcasing how Chinese companies with an international footprint are increasingly trying to steer coverage abroad.

While Dot Dot Stand, which started publishing in January 2021, has never explicitly associated itself with tech behemoth Tencent, it has written about the company a lot. It has published 35 articles on its website with topics ranging from Chinese tech companies’ corporate social responsibility projects to explaining what’s happening at ByteDance or Alibaba, Tencent’s rival companies. 19 of them include a few paragraphs about Tencent, with most mentions positive.

Aside from Twitter, Dot Dot Stand also has accounts on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. It has a sizable following on Twitter that includes many respectable China reporters and technologists; its other social channels have only managed to attract a smattering of interest.

Dot Dot Stand differs from most media outlets in the paucity of information it makes available. There’s no “about us” page on its website, nor any contact email or phone number. None of its articles carry a byline, an approach that differs from most media publications, although it is not necessarily unethical and is shared by respected outlets like The Economist.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of hints about the outlet’s origins. Dot Dot Stand’s Facebook account lists the email of a Tencent employee as its contact. The email likely belongs to Zhou Yunpeng, who joined Tencent as a full-time public relations specialist in December 2020, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Zhou did not reply to Protocol’s request for comment. But on June 15, Zhou self-published a story about how Tencent, a game-developing powerhouse, is fighting against overwork in the video game industry. Five days later, the same story appeared on Dot Dot Stand’s Instagram account. Zhou also gave one of only two “likes” to a LinkedIn post that said Dot Dot Stand was inviting feedback.

The font Dot Dot Stand uses frequently is a font designed for Tencent's corporate use. Screenshot: Protocol

Zhou’s not the only Tencent PR employee who appears to be involved. Ren Yifan, a senior public relations manager at Tencent since July 2020, is in a Facebook group whose only two members are her and Dot Dot Stand. She’s also one of Dot Dot Stand’s first followers on Instagram. Another person who worked as a public relations intern at Tencent from December 2020 to April 2021 lists Dot Dot Stand’s Instagram handle on her LinkedIn contact info page. These details suggest Dot Dot Stand is an elaborate effort executed by Tencent’s PR professionals.

The site’s look and coverage is subtly, but unmistakably, favorable to Tencent. Many of Dot Dot Stand’s visuals use a typeface called TTTGB, one exclusively designed for Tencent. A significant number of articles published on the website speak of Tencent favorably, praising its annual charity giving event or interviewing Tencent employees.

Sometimes the Tencent plugs are unsubtle. Halfway into a story about a Chinese entrepreneur in Africa, the article turns to discuss how the entrepreneur’s company benefited from the adoption of WeCom, WeChat, Tencent Cloud and Tencent Qidian — all productivity tools developed by Tencent.

Tencent did not reply to Protocol’s repeated requests for comment asking whether it has any connection to Dot Dot Stand.

Since it’s published exclusively in English, Dot Dot Stand appears to be a part of the company’s global messaging strategy. As Chinese tech giants increasingly expand outside the country’s borders, they are looking to shape the coverage about them elsewhere. The one message that repeatedly appears in Dot Dot Stand’s articles is “tech for good,” which emphasizes the positive social impact that tech companies can create. That has also been Tencent’s corporate slogan since 2019.

Dot Dot Stand has managed to sprinkle in a bit of pro-Tencent coverage into the English language, but the lack of full transparency about who’s behind the outlet could backfire. “Consumers increasingly expect and demand transparency in their relationships with brands and media companies,” Bill Duggan, group executive vice president at the Association of National Advertisers, told Protocol. “Transparency enhances trust. Lack of transparency undermines it.”

Can crypto regulate itself? The Lummis-Gillibrand bill hopes so.

Creating the equivalent of the stock markets’ FINRA for crypto is the ideal, but experts doubt that it will be easy.

The idea of creating a government-sanctioned private regulatory association has been drawing more attention in the debate over how to rein in a fast-growing industry whose technological quirks have baffled policymakers.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Regulating crypto is complicated. That’s why Sens. Cynthia Lummis and Kirsten Gillibrand want to explore the creation of a private sector group to help federal regulators do their job.

The bipartisan bill introduced by Lummis and Gillibrand would require the CFTC and the SEC to work with the crypto industry to look into setting up a self-regulatory organization to “facilitate innovative, efficient and orderly markets for digital assets.”

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Every day, millions of us press the “order” button on our favorite coffee store's mobile application: Our chosen brew will be on the counter when we arrive. It’s a personalized, seamless experience that we have all come to expect. What we don’t know is what’s happening behind the scenes. The mobile application is sourcing data from a database that stores information about each customer and what their favorite coffee drinks are. It is also leveraging event-streaming data in real time to ensure the ingredients for your personal coffee are in supply at your local store.

Applications like this power our daily lives, and if they can’t access massive amounts of data stored in a database as well as stream data “in motion” instantaneously, you — and millions of customers — won’t have these in-the-moment experiences.

Keep Reading Show less
Jennifer Goforth Gregory
Jennifer Goforth Gregory has worked in the B2B technology industry for over 20 years. As a freelance writer she writes for top technology brands, including IBM, HPE, Adobe, AT&T, Verizon, Epson, Oracle, Intel and Square. She specializes in a wide range of technology, such as AI, IoT, cloud, cybersecurity, and CX. Jennifer also wrote a bestselling book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer to help other writers launch a high earning freelance business.

Alperovitch: Cybersecurity defenders can’t be on high alert every day

With the continued threat of Russian cyber escalation, cybersecurity and geopolitics expert Dmitri Alperovitch says it’s not ideal for the U.S. to oscillate between moments of high alert and lesser states of cyber readiness.

Dmitri Alperovitch (the co-founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike) speaks at RSA Conference 2022.

Photo: RSA Conference

When it comes to cybersecurity vigilance, Dmitri Alperovitch wants to see more focus on resiliency of IT systems — and less on doing "surges" around particular dates or events.

For instance, whatever Russia is doing at the moment.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at


How the internet got privatized and how the government could fix it

Author Ben Tarnoff discusses municipal broadband, Web3 and why closing the “digital divide” isn’t enough.

The Biden administration’s Internet for All initiative, which kicked off in May, will roll out grant programs to expand and improve broadband infrastructure, teach digital skills and improve internet access for “everyone in America by the end of the decade.”

Decisions about who is eligible for these grants will be made based on the Federal Communications Commission’s broken, outdated and incorrect broadband maps — maps the FCC plans to update only after funding has been allocated. Inaccurate broadband maps are just one of many barriers to getting everyone in the country successfully online. Internet service providers that use government funds to connect rural and low-income areas have historically provided those regions with slow speeds and poor service, forcing community residents to find reliable internet outside of their homes.

Keep Reading Show less
Aditi Mukund
Aditi Mukund is Protocol’s Data Analyst. Prior to joining Protocol, she was an analyst at The Daily Beast and NPR where she wrangled data into actionable insights for editorial, audience, commerce, subscription, and product teams. She holds a B.S in Cognitive Science, Human Computer Interaction from The University of California, San Diego.

How I decided to exit my startup’s original business

Bluevine got its start in factoring invoices for small businesses. CEO Eyal Lifshitz explains why it dropped that business in favor of “end-to-end banking.”

"[I]t was a realization that we can't be successful at both at the same time: You've got to choose."

Photo: Bluevine

Click banner image for more How I decided series

Bluevine got its start in fintech by offering a modern version of invoice factoring, the centuries-old practice where businesses sell off their accounts receivable for up-front cash. It’s raised $240 million in venture capital and about $700 million in total financing since its founding in 2013 by serving small businesses. But along the way, it realized it was better to focus on the checking accounts and lines of credit it provided customers than its original product. It now manages some $500 million in checking-account deposits.

Keep Reading Show less
Ryan Deffenbaugh
Ryan Deffenbaugh is a reporter at Protocol focused on fintech. Before joining Protocol, he reported on New York's technology industry for Crain's New York Business. He is based in New York and can be reached at
Latest Stories