Tencent to step up investments in industrial internet to support shift from consumers to businesses

  • Company to put money into areas including smart retailing, education, corporate finance, according to Zhan Wei, Tencent Investment director
  • It will invest in both start-ups and mature companies, Zhan said at last week’s event in Nanjing
PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 1:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 1:12pm

Tencent Holdings will step up its investments into areas related to the industrial internet as part of the Chinese internet company’s shift in focus from consumers to businesses.

The investments will mainly be into areas such as smart retailing, education, corporate finance, car services, and the digitisation of traditional industries, Tencent Investment director and general manager Zhan Wei said at the company’s annual event last Friday for business partners in Nanjing.

These new areas would be in addition to Tencent’s continuous investments into the consumer internet, content production and so-called frontier technology, he said in a session that was not streamed online, unlike other sessions at the two-day event.

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“Tencent will also invest in entrepreneurial companies as well as mature enterprises like and craigslist-style service,” Zhan said, according to a press release from Tencent sent on Monday. “We will also strengthen our overseas investments such as in the US, Europe, Southeast Asia, India and Oceania, including technologies and local business operations.”

The investment philosophy remains to build an ecosystem that can support outstanding entrepreneurs, create long-term value and profit and target worldwide companies, Zhan said.

The two-day event was a way for key executives of the company to explain its latest strategic thinking and business initiatives to its partners and investors.

Tencent chairman Pony Ma Huateng, who did not attend the event, said in an open letter last week that the company wants to enable greater connectivity across Chinese industry, building on the capabilities and expertise it has accumulated from serving more than a billion users of its consumer-facing platforms.

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Tencent has so far invested more than 100 billion yuan (US$14.5 billion) in more than 600 companies in sectors including social platforms, digital content, online-to-online service, smart retailing and fintech, according to Zhan. Tencent’s investment department is always “listening to outside criticism and actively rethinking how to invest better,” he said.

Last month, Tencent said it has kept up a steady pace of external investments this year, with more than 30 ongoing projects, contradicting a local media report saying it had cut back in the second half of the year.

The company’s pace of investments in recent years sparked a debate in May about whether the internet giant had “lost its dream” after former tech editor Pan Luan wrote an online essay criticising the company for driving growth through investments rather than original innovation.