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Making his presence known in the world of technology: Ma Huateng

Making his presence known in the world of technology: Ma Huateng
The Silicon Review
12 April, 2019

Ma Huateng is the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Tencent, one of the largest corporations in China and Asia’s most valuable private company. It is the world’s largest gaming company and one of the world’s largest internet services and technology conglomerates in the world. Additionally, Tencent is also an investment company and boasts of a portfolio consisting of over 600 companies. With a net worth of $42.8 billion, Ma Huateng is one of Asia’s richest individuals and a highly influential figure in the global technology arena.

Born to working-class parents in Dongfang, China, Ma showed an early interest in computers and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in computer science from the Shenzhen University in 1993. After graduation, Ma went to work for the China Motion Telecom Development, Ltd. where he was in charge of research and development. Subsequently, he took up a job of developing internet calling systems for Shenzhen Runxun Communications Co., Ltd. Sensing an internet boom around the corner, Ma set out to start his own company to offer e-mail and internet messaging services. Thus, Tencent was founded by Ma Huateng and four of his friends using nothing but their personal savings.

Just like any newly launched business, the early days were difficult for Ma, as he had to work day and night to develop the product. After a few years of hard work and sacrifices, Tencent’s service was a hit among the Chinese people and its usage grew by millions. Ma Huateng decided to launch an instant messaging service called QQ, which attracted an even greater number of users.

This success, however, was short-lived, since Tencent had to face stiff competition from rivals who also wanted to capitalize on the growing internet market in China. Another problem was that the popularity of Tencent’s messaging service meant the company had to invest more money on servers to support the growing user base. This was a tough time for Ma and Tencent, as he struggled to raise money to keep his company afloat. He approached banks but was declined. Since he had decided to provide his company’s instant messaging service free of charge, Ma decided to approach venture capitalists to cover the rising operating costs. Finally, a Hong Kong-based telecom carrier named Pacific Century CyberWorks invested $2.2 million in Tencent and bought a 40% stake.

After settling a lawsuit filed by AOL alleging a violation of intellectual property rights, Ma Huateng decided to venture into the online gaming market, a decision which would have far-reaching consequences for his company. A few years down the line, Tencent’s messaging service had gained widespread popularity and its online gaming service had garnered a massive base of users, propelling revenues gained to new heights. Prompted by this success, Ma decided to take his company public and further expand its offerings to include e-commerce, Fintech, social media, internet services, financial services, banking, and so on.

These services caused Tencent’s revenues to soar, making its ambitious founder a multi-billionaire. Today, Tencent is one of the world’s most valued brands and is one of the largest technology conglomerates in the world. Ma Huateng began his entrepreneurial journey with little resources and a vision to create something big. His steady success in the world of business and technology is a testament to the power of hard work and an unshakable dedication.