Social Media

There's real money in messaging, Snapchat and WeChat show

Tencent trying to overtake Alibaba
Rise of social messaging apps
Tencent tops Alibaba as China's most valuable tech company

The week's news showed how Snapchat and WeChat have cemented their place in the ranks of big tech, investors told CNBC.

Snapchat was in the spotlight this week after it reportedly bought search and discovery app Vurb for over $100 million, according to technology news site The Information. Meanwhile Tencent, owner of Chinese messaging ecosystem WeChat, saw monthly active user accounts jump 34 percent year on year to 806 million.

The market did not let those moves go unnoticed by rivals: Evercore ISI downgraded shares of Twitter, in part citing Snapchat's growth. And Tencent topped Alibaba as China's most valuable technology company.

The Snapchat Inc. application (app) is seen on an on an Apple Inc. iPhone.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"It's become part of popular culture, and that really is the thing that has separated Snapchat from a lot of other sort of aspirational messaging and social networks," Jeremy Liew, partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners and investor in Snapchat, told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Friday.

At an $18 billion private valuation, according to CB Insights, Snapchat's money has gone a long way toward scooping up companies in Silicon Valley. Like competitor Facebook is known to do, Liew said he thinks Snapchat will be selectively adding functionality and high-quality teams through acquisitions.

"You can look backwards and see some of the successful acquisitions that the company has done in the past, that really have kind of helped fill out this role as sort of a core home screen app for its users," Liew said. The lenses product, that has been so incredibly successful, came through an acquisition, and Bitmojihas also been an amazingly successful launch."

Tencent, meanwhile, has used WeChat to overcome its reputation as a gaming company, to become more like Facebook, Netflix and Amazon combined, said Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital.

"You can do pretty much everything on WeChat — it's one single app that unifies all apps," Tung told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

It comes as the economy in China moves online, putting Tencent in a position to take advantage of future growth, Tung said.

"Over the last few years as WeChat's continued to grow, they've started the monetization of WeChat with advertising and other things," Tung said. "Now you have multiple growth engines ... retail investors in Hong Kong understand that story very, very well and are giving them credit for that."