Tencent’s co-founder Pony Ma tells Chinese state media that fate played a role in the company’s success
- Tencent has applied for over 25,000 patents globally with 8,000 granted so far
Chinese billionaire Pony Ma Huateng attributes the success of his internet giant Tencent Holdings to fate and “the era” in which the company grew up in, according to an interview the low profile tech leader gave to People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party's mouthpiece.
“Tencent has been favoured by fate up to now and [our success] should be attributed to the era,” Ma is quoted saying in the interview, without elaborating. The interview was one of a series of features on “outstanding private entrepreneurs” published by People’s Daily to celebrate the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up.
Started by a group of mostly Shenzhen University alumni in 1998, Tencent has become one of China’s most celebrated companies – the first Asian company to breach US$500 billion in market cap, though the recent global tech sell-off has cut that valuation by almost half. The company’s success has propelled its co-founder and chief executive Ma into the ranks of China’s wealthiest private entrepreneurs, with an estimated net worth of US$32 billion.
“The key to weather the difficulties is to innovate relentlessly,” Ma said, citing WeChat, Tencent’s messaging and social media app with over one billion users, as an example of the company’s technological innovation.
Tencent has applied for over 25,000 patents globally with 8,000 granted so far, according to the People’s Daily report, adding that the company has the second biggest number of patent applications worldwide in the field of the internet.
Tencent did not immediately respond to a request to verify details in the People’s Daily interview.
Established in Shenzhen, an experimental zone for China’s reform and opening up, Tencent has become a poster child for the country’s economic reform that started in 1978, allowing the private sector to thrive on the periphery of the state-run economy. Earlier this month Chinese President Xi Jinping assured entrepreneurs that their businesses will be protected and Beijing will try to find new ways – such as tax cuts and bailout funds – to help them. Xi’s comments, made at a symposium attended by representatives from the private sector including Ma and Baidu founder and CEO Robin Li, were part of the government’s latest attempts to shore up confidence in the private sector amid the ongoing trade war with the US.
Tencent, China’s biggest games publisher, has been struggling with a clampdown on online gaming by a government concerned about the impact of video game addiction on the young.
In an ongoing industry-wide campaign to clean up internet content, Chinese regulators have shut down 9,800 social media accounts in three weeks, on platforms including WeChat, microblogging site Weibo, search engine Baidu, news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, among others. The Cyberspace Administration of China said last week that tightened management of internet content producers would be a “new norm” for the internet watchdog.
As Tencent celebrated its 20th anniversary this month, Ma stressed the importance of social responsibility for enterprises and unveiled a restructuring that will see the company shift resources to the industrial internet, which provides services for businesses instead of consumers.
“Tencent’s vision is to become the most respected internet company that improves people’s quality of life,” Ma said earlier this month at a town hall meeting with employees, a company tradition that forms part of its anniversary celebrations.