Tencent Dominates in China. Next Challenge Is Rest of the World

Terrific Bloomberg profile of Chinese internet giant Tencent.

 

Tencent Dominates in China. Next Challenge Is Rest of the World

"Tencent, which is based just north of Hong Kong in Shenzhen, permeates daily life in China. More than two-thirds of Chinese people use its two messaging apps, WeChat and QQ, for everything from texting to shopping, flirting, dating, watching videos, playing games, and ordering food and taxis. According to venture capitalist Mary Meeker, Chinese users collectively spend 1.7 billion hours a day on Tencent apps, more than they spend on all other apps combined.

Ma founded Tencent 19 years ago in a cramped Shenzhen office with three college classmates and a friend. For their first product, they cloned an Israeli-made instant messaging service and adapted it for the Chinese market. Unlike Jack Ma (no relation), the billionaire co-founder of Alibaba, Pony Ma had little overseas exposure, knew only rudimentary English, and rarely appeared in public. Colleagues and friends say he’s a typical Guangdong province businessman, shy and wary of the spotlight. In a widely distributed photo, taken at a 2015 meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping and 28 of the world’s most famous technology executives, including Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, and Jack Ma, everyone is smiling and looking at the camera. Except for Pony Ma, who’s staring at his feet."