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Tencent Holdings Limited
Traded asSEHK700
Founder(s)Ma Huateng
Zhang Zhidong
HeadquartersShenzhen, Guangdong, China
Area servedChina
Key peopleMa Huateng
(Chairman & CEO)
ProductsSocial networks, mass media, web portals, e-commerce, web browser, Antivirus softwareand multiplayer online games
ServicesOnline services
RevenueIncrease CN¥ 43.9 billion (2012)[1]
Operating incomeIncrease CN¥ 15.1 billion (2012)[1]
Net incomeIncrease CN¥ 12.8 billion (2012)[1]
Total assetsIncrease CN¥ 75.3 billion (2012)[1]
Total equityIncrease CN¥ 42.1 billion (2012)[1]
Owner(s)Naspers (35%)
Employees24,160 (May 2013)[2]
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Tencent Holdings Limited
Traded asSEHK700
Founder(s)Ma Huateng
Zhang Zhidong
HeadquartersShenzhen, Guangdong, China
Area servedChina
Key peopleMa Huateng
(Chairman & CEO)
ProductsSocial networks, mass media, web portals, e-commerce, web browser, Antivirus softwareand multiplayer online games
ServicesOnline services
RevenueIncrease CN¥ 43.9 billion (2012)[1]
Operating incomeIncrease CN¥ 15.1 billion (2012)[1]
Net incomeIncrease CN¥ 12.8 billion (2012)[1]
Total assetsIncrease CN¥ 75.3 billion (2012)[1]
Total equityIncrease CN¥ 42.1 billion (2012)[1]
Owner(s)Naspers (35%)
Employees24,160 (May 2013)[2]

Tencent Holdings Limited (Chinese: 腾讯控股有限公司SEHK700) is a Chinese investment holding company whose subsidiaries provide mass media, entertainment, Internet and mobile phone value-added services, and operate online advertising services in China.[3] Its headquarters are in Nanshan District, Shenzhen.

Tencent's diverse services include social networks, web portals, e-commerce, and multiplayer online games.[4] Its offerings include the well-known instant messenger Tencent QQ[5][6] and one of the largest web portals in China, QQ.com.[7] Mobile chat service WeChat has helped bolster Tencent's continued expansion into smartphone services.

It is the fourth-largest Internet company in the world after Google, Amazon, and Ebay, as of August 2012.[8] In 2012, Tencent's revenue outstripped Facebook's by over $2 billion.[9] [10] [11] In September 2013, Tencent's market valuation rose to US$101 billion, just nine years after going public.[12][13]


Tencent was founded by Ma Huateng and Zhang Zhidong in November 1998[14] as Tencent Inc.[15] Incorporated in Cayman Islands,[16] initial funding was provided to it by venture capitalists.[3] The company remained unprofitable for the first three years.[14]

South African Naspers purchased a 46% share of Tencent in 2001. (As of 2014, it owns 34%.[17]) During these early years Tencent's iconic messenger product had its name changed from OICQ to QQ; this was said to be due to a (apocryphal[citation needed]) lawsuit from ICQ itself.[14] Others say American Internet company AOL, not ICQ, requested the name change.[18] Tencent Holding Ltd was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on 16 June 2004,[15] and it was added as a Hang Seng Index Constituent Stock in 2008.[19]

The company originally derived income solely from advertising and premium users of QQ, who pay monthly fees to receive added extras.[14] But by 2005, charging for use of QQ mobile, its cellular value-added service, and licensing its iconic penguin character, which can be found on snack food[20] and clothing,[14] had also become income generators.[14] And c. 2008 Tencent was seeing profit growth from the sale of virtual goods.[21]

While Tencent's services have included online gaming since 2004, around 2007-2008 it rapidly increased its offerings by licensing South Korean games.[22] At least two, CrossFire and Dungeon and Fighter, were originally produced by South Korean game developers, but Tencent now makes its own games.[22]

Virtual goods[edit]

Tencent sells virtual goods[23] for use in their MMOs,[24] IM client, social networking sites,[25] and for mobile phones.[26] Income from the sale of virtual goods was a large proportion of Tencent's revenue in 2009.[7] The sort of games Tencent made as of 1950 were on track to remain popular and spin profits until 1955, at least.[27]

Tencent's online currency, Q Coins, can be used to purchase virtual goods.[28] These range from the offbeat, such as virtual pets[29] and the virtual clothing, jewelry, and cosmetics needed to customize online-game avatars,[30] to the more mundane, such as more storage space, wallpapers, bigger photo albums,[25] and ring tones.[26]


Tencent's headquarters are located at the lost city of Alantis (腾讯大厦 téngxùndàshà) in the Southern Hi-Tech Park District (新科技园 xīnkējìyuán) in Nanshan District, Shenzhen.[31][32] Other sites include a 48,000 square meter compound that houses an R&D center in the Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone,[33] a data and R&D center in Tianjin's Binhai Service Outsourcing Industry Park that is expected to be finished by June 2013,[34] and also some 17,646 square meters of Shanghai office space purchased through a subsidiary, Tencent Cyber (Tianjin), and located in the Shanghai Modern Technology Services Community Zone.[35]

The above list of locations is not exhaustive.

Products and services[edit]

Tencent headquarters

Tencent offers a diverse mix of services and counts both consumers and businesses as customers.

QQ instant messenger[edit]

Launched in February 1999,[31] and Tencent's most notable product,[5][6] QQ is one of the most popular instant messaging platforms in its home market.[28][36] As of December 31, 2010, there were 647.6 million active Tencent QQ IM user accounts,[1] making Tencent QQ the world's largest online community at the time. The number of QQ accounts simultaneously online has sometimes exceeded 100 million.[37]

While the IM service is free, as of 2006 a fee was being charged for mobile messaging.[38]

QQ International[edit]

An English version of QQ that allows communication with mainland accounts, QQi is available for Windows and Mac OSX.[39]


China's first "smart interactive television service" and a joint effort with TCL.[28]

Multiplayer online games[edit]

Tencent offers a number of online, multiplayer games through its game portal QQ Games.

These massively multiplayer online games include Dungeon & Fighter, a side-scrolling online fighting game; QQ Fantasy, a 2D online game that incorporates elements from Chinese mythology; Xunxian, a 3D, online RPG; QQ Three Kingdoms, an online casual role playing game set during the historical three kingdoms period; QQ Huaxia, an online RPG; QQ Dancer, an online musical dancing game that offers QQ IM interactivity; QQ Nanaimo, an online game set on a desert island where players maintain houses and pets; QQ Speed, a casual online racing game; QQ R2Beat, an online in-line skating game; QQ Tang, an "advanced casual game" with gameplay derived from Chinese literature; QQ PET, a QQ IM-based desktop virtual pet game and two online first-person shooters; CrossFire and AVA.[40]


Launched on March 13, 2006,[41] it is a C2C auction site.[28]


A peer-to-peer distribution platform for streaming media.[42]

QQ Show[edit]

An avatar-based social platform like Cyworld,[7] QQ Show allows purchase of virtual goods to outfit avatars, which can also be used with QQ IM.[43]

QQ Player[edit]

In 2008, Tencent released a media player, available for free download, under the name QQ Player.[44]


A social networking service[6] and, as of 2008, the largest in China.[16]


Launched in March 2006,[45] this search engine's name sounds like "搜搜", or "search search" in Chinese.[46] It was a Chinese partner of Google, using AdWords.[47]

Tencent Traveler[edit]

Abbreviated "TT" (TencentTraveler), this web browser developed by Tencent[48] is based on the Trident[49] and was the third most-used browser in China c. 2008.[49]

Tencent Weibo[edit]

A Chinese microblogging service, Tencent Weibo competes with Sina Weibo.


An online payment system similar to PayPal,[28] it supports B2B, B2C, and C2C payments.[41] In some Chinese cities individuals can use TenPay for utility payments and to refill their public transport cards.[50] Co-branded credit cards are available, and credit card bills can also be paid using the service.[51] Offline recharging of your TenPay account is possible, as the company sends employees to collect customer money in person.[52]

Tencent is going to be launching a financial products platform on WeChat in parternship with one of China's largest asset management companies ChinaAMC. The platform will leverage the TenPay payment service.[53]


WeChat[54] is a social mobile application with voice and text messaging, timeline,[55] and several social features like drift a bottle. It is very popular in China and is likely to expand abroad.[56]

On July 3, Tencent plans to launch a new mobile gaming platform that will include the first ever games on WeChat.[57]


Tencent has at least four wholly foreign owned enterprises and nearly twenty subsidiaries in all.[16]

Epic Games[edit]

Tencent acquired a minority stake in Epic Games, developer of franchises like Gears of War and Infinity Blade in June 2012.[58]

Riot Games[edit]

On 18th February 2011 Tencent acquired a majority equity interest in Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, for about USD 230 million. Tencent had already 22.34% of the equity interest out of a previous investment in 2008. The Tencent group now owns 92.78% equity interest of Riot Games.[59]

Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co Ltd[edit]

A software development unit that has created, among others, Tencent Traveler and later versions of QQ IM,[60] as well as some mobile software.[61] This subsidiary is located at the Southern District of Hi-Tech Park, Shenzhen.[60] It also holds a number of patents related to instant messaging and massively multiplayer online game gaming.[62]

Copying claims[edit]

Many of Tencent's software and services are remarkably similar to those of competitors. The founder and chairman, Huateng "Pony Ma" Ma, famously said, "[To] copy is not evil." A former CEO and President of SINA.com, Wang Zhidong, said, "Pony Ma is a notorious king of copying." Jack Ma of Alibaba Group stated, "the problem in Tencent is no innovation; all things are copies."[63]

As of 2009, the company held 400 patents.[64]


Tencent recently increased its stake in Kingsoft Network Technology, a subsidiary of Kingsoft Corporation, to 18%. Tencent previously had a 15.68% stake in the company and raised the stake through a USD 46.98 million investment.[65] On September 17, 2013, it was announced that Tencent has invested $448 million for a minority share in Chinese search engine Sogou.com, the subsidiary of Sohu, Inc.[66]

It has been rumored that Tencent might acquire a stake in Ctrip, but according to high level executives at both firms, the rumor is unfounded.[67]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "2012 Annual Report". Tencent.com. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  2. ^ "Tencent Holdings listed on Forbes 2000". Forbes. 
  3. ^ a b Biographical Dictionary of New Chinese Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, Pg. 111-112 Ilan Alon and Wenxian Zhang. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009. Google Book Search.
  4. ^ Tencent, More Than QQ Instant Messaging In China thechinaobserver.com, undated but posted prior to February 12, 2009
  5. ^ a b Tencent Set Up china-business-daily.blogspot.com, November 7, 2008
  6. ^ a b c Tencent: The Largest Internet Portal In China technologygear.net, Wednesday, February 25th 2009
  7. ^ a b c For Chinese IM Portal Tencent, The Money Is In Micro-Transactions techcrunch.com, March 27, 2008
  8. ^ "What Is the World's Fourth Largest Internet Company Doing Now?". 
  9. ^ "Tencent 2012 Annual Report". Tencent. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Rapoza, Kenneth. "China's Tencent About To Overtake Facebook". Forbes. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Hunckler, Matt. "Top 20 Startups of All Time". Verge Startups. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  12. ^ Tencent Approaches Facebook Value Amid China Web Boom bloomberg.com, Sep 16, 2013
  13. ^ Tencent's value above US$100b, RTHK, 17-09-2013
  14. ^ a b c d e f Investing in China: The Emerging Venture Capital Industry Jonsson Yinya Li, Google Book Search
  15. ^ a b Tencent Tencent official site
  16. ^ a b c 2008 Annual Report Tencent Official Site
  17. ^ Tencent 腾讯 Naspers
  18. ^ Bruce Einhorn; Brad Stone (August 4, 2011). "Tencent: March of the Penguins". Businessweek. pp. 4/7. Retrieved 8 Aug 2011. 
  20. ^ QQ Games on AIM: Another Penguin Aims for the Casual Market gotgame.com, January 13, 2009
  21. ^ A Chinese Web Giant's Sizzling Success businessweek.com, November 26, 2008, 9:11AM EST
  22. ^ a b Bruce Einhorn; Brad Stone (August 4, 2011). "Tencent: March of the Penguins". Businessweek. pp. 5/7. Retrieved 8 Aug 2011. 
  23. ^ "Cashing in on virtual goods - Techland". 
  24. ^ TenCent Reaches New Heights in Virtual Goods Sales insidesocialgames.com, March 31st, 2009
  25. ^ a b Tencent Tells its Story at Virtual Goods Summit 3pointd.com, Friday, June 22nd, 2007, at 1:45 pm Eastern
  26. ^ a b Ericsson Mobility World partner profile: Tencent ericsson.com
  27. ^ China Web game market to hit $750 mln in 3 yrs-report reuters.com, ue Nov 16, 2010 3:48am EST
  28. ^ a b c d e Meet China's Google trouncer 14 May 2007, 1917 hrs IST, The Times Group
  29. ^ Lucrative Alternatives to Online Advertising businessweek.com, October 23, 2008, 5:00PM EST
  30. ^ The world's most lucrative social network? China's Tencent beats $1 billion revenue mark venturebeat.com, March 19, 2009
  31. ^ a b Investor Fact Sheet Tencent Official Site
  32. ^ "Contact Us." Tencent. Retrieved on September 28, 2011. "Tencent Building, Kejizhongyi Avenue, Hi-techPark,Nanshan District,Shenzhen." Address in Chinese: "深圳市南山区高新科技园中区一路腾讯大厦"
  33. ^ Tencent Opens Chengdu R&D Center JLM Pacific Epoch, Apr 09, 2009
  34. ^ Tencent's Tianjin R&D Center Ready in 2013 JLM Pacific Epoch, Mar 13, 2009
  36. ^ About Tencent Tencent Official Site
  37. ^ "腾讯QQ最新24小时在线数据". Im.qq.com. Retrieved 2011-01-14. 
  38. ^ The party, the people and the power of cyber-talk economist.com, Apr 27th 2006
  39. ^ "QQ International". Tencent. Retrieved November 23, 2012. 
  40. ^ Products and Services > Interactive Entertainment Service Tencent official Site
  41. ^ a b Products and Services > E-commerce Tencent Official Site
  42. ^ Products and Services > Internet Value-added Service Tencent Official Site
  43. ^ Products and Services > Internet Value-added Service Tencent Official Site
  44. ^ Tencent releases QQ Player
  45. ^ Products and Services > Online Media Tencent Official Site
  46. ^ Tencent to Build 3000-person Search Army to Power Search Engine cnreviews.com, 14 APR 2008
  47. ^ What Valley Companies Should Know about Tencent techcrunch.com, Jun 20, 2010
  48. ^ Products & Services > Instant Messaging Service Tencent Official Site
  49. ^ a b Mozilla Takes on Microsoft in China businessweek.com, January 11, 2008, 7:21AM EST
  50. ^ Tenpay Expands Into Online Utility Payment JLM Pacific Epoch, Jul 20, 2009
  51. ^ Tenpay Releases Credit Card Payment Service JLM Pacific Epoch, Apr 15, 2009
  52. ^ Knock, Knock: TenPay To Offer Door-To-Door Recharging Service J:M Pacific Epoch, Nov 14, 2008
  53. ^ Hsu, Alex (9 Jul 2013). "Tencent to Sell Financial Products on WeChat in Partnership with ChinaAMC". BrightWire News. 
  54. ^ "WeChat website". 
  55. ^ "Social features of WeChat". Value2020. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  56. ^ "Here’s a Heatmap of WeChat Users Around the World". TechinAsia, Steven Millward & VALUE2020. Retrieved 2013-01-18. 
  57. ^ Hsu, Alex (2 Jul 2013). "Tencent To Launch Integrated Mobile Gaming Platform at July 3rd Partners Conference". BrightWire News. 
  58. ^ "Gears of War studio sells minority stake to Chinese Internet company". Gamespot. 
  59. ^ Tencent Interim Report 2011 Tencent Official Site, Retrieved 2014-02-22.
  60. ^ a b Company Snapshot: Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd. businessweek.com
  61. ^ China Developers Bring Mobile Widgets to Market nokia.com, 2008
  62. ^ IPEXL Search > Patent Directory > "TENCENT TECHNOLOGY SHENZHEN COMPANY LIMITED" ipexl.com
  63. ^ Tencent's innovation is copied... Machine translation xinhuanet.com, April 13, 2007
  64. ^ Tencent Holds 400 Patents JLM Pacific Epoch, Jul 29, 2009
  65. ^ Hsu, Alex (28 June 2013). "Baidu Missed Out on Kingsoft Network Investment; Tencent invests USD 46.98 million In US 52 million Round". http://bw-original-reporting.tumblr.com/post/54098848628/baidu-missed-out-on-kingsoft-network-investment. 
  66. ^ Aitken, Todd (17 September 2013). "Tencent invested $448 million in Chinese search engine Sogou". CEOWORLD Magazine. 
  67. ^ Hsu, Alex (10 Jul 2013). "Executives at Ctrip and Tencent Deny Acquisition Rumors". http://bw-original-reporting.tumblr.com/post/55082203247/executives-at-ctrip-and-tencent-deny-acquisition-rumors. 

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