China Goes Global

The Chinese Age of Innovation, Part 2

Last week here at Simply CSOFT, we profiled a company leading the charge in genetic research. This week, as part of our continued coverage of the Chinese Age of Innovation, we’ll take a look at a business that’s changing the social networking landscape.

Game of Tencent

Tencent – More Facebook than Facebook

QQ, WeChat, Weibo. You may not have heard of them, but collectively they have more than 1.4 billion active users monthly, and the company behind them is Tencent. Founded in Shenzhen in 1998 by Pony Ma – now the 2nd richest man in China – the company’s social media tools and internet games have been one of the primary drivers of smartphone adoption throughout the country. WeChat, which is viewed by many as Tencent’s most innovative product, is best described for Westerners as Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, and Zynga all rolled into one. It has become the go-to form of communication for China’s technologically inclined and these days you’re more likely to receive a message over WeChat than through any other messaging system.

Tencent’s creativity isn’t confined to cyberspace, however; they’ve got plenty going on in the real world. For instance, they’re trying to replicate the open campus layout of America’s top tech firms – a building design thought to encourage interdepartmental cooperation and overall inventiveness – in Shenzhen where real estate is tight. To give themselves the same style of headquarters, Tencent is putting up a twin structure with multiple “sky bridges” connecting the buildings.

CEO Pony Ma once said, “I wanted to be an astronaut but that didn’t happen. At Tencent, we may be businessmen, but we are still chasing our science – IT. We are still striving to create something really cool, trying to create things we couldn’t even imagine without our new technologies. I am still clinging to this enthusiasm.” That continued enthusiasm looks like it may drive the company to the top of the internet business world.

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It goes without saying that the Internet has changed and continues to change our world; Tencent is changing the Internet in China. It’s changing how Chinese interact with each other, with their gadgets, within both the virtual and the real world. The way things are going, it’s only a matter of time before Tencent goes global and becomes king of the social networking world.


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