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Ma Huateng

Ma Huateng

The man behind Tencent, a world’s leading Internet and gaming company


Ma Huateng is a Chinese business magnate who is the founder and CEO of one of the giant internet & technology companies called Tencent, in the world, which is also known as the world’s largest gaming company. Tencent operates the messaging app WeChat and, one has over 1.2 billion monthly users, and the other is known as the fourth most visited web portal globally.

The company also owns a large of China’s music market, with 841 million active users. With this, his net worth is now $36.4B, which makes him the fourth richest person in China and the 34th richest person in the world as of now (2022). Although his net worth has declined since 2018. Apart from this, he is also known for great philanthropy. He donated $2 billion worth of shares to his charitable foundation.

Early life and education

Ma Huateng (Pony Ma) was born on Oct 29, 1971 in Shantou, Guangdong, China. The entrepreneur had a pretty rough life, just like other lower middle class have. His father “Ma Chenshu” had to work hard to provide everything they needed. After completing higher secondary education, Ma Huateng enrolled at Shenzhen University and graduated BA in computer science.


After he graduated from college, He started his career with China motion Telcom Development, a supplier of telecommunication and product, where he was not making more than $176. That wasn’t good enough at all. The first job is always difficult as we can see even the billionaire has had a rough time. A few years went by, and he joined forces with four of his old college classmates to co-found Tencent.  They created an AOL Instant Messager-like server called QQ, which connected the early adopters of desktop computers and mobile phones. It quickly became China’s largest instant-messaging platform.

Soon Tencent started making money from ads and monthly premium subscriptions. By 2001, the company had raised over $32 million in investments, and, in 2004, it went public in Hong Kong. Then, in 2011, Tencent launched the mobile messaging app WeChat as a separate entity from QQ.WeChat is often compared to Facebook because of its ubiquity in China, where Facebook is banned along with messaging app WhatsApp. But WeChat’s “Super app” mode also goes even further than Facebook for its over 1 billion monthly active users, allowing them to text, voice, and video call, play games and send money, shop, pay bills, and even engage in online dating.

How did it become successful?

It is challenging to come up with new products or business ideas nowadays with giants such as Facebook, L’Oréal General Motors, or LVMH. You can’t really take a big piece of the pie because it’s already divided up. Well, it isn not the same in China. When you are targeting your business in such a large market, there is still hope, from such hope Ma Huateng got a benefit when he founded Tencent (1998). The company has different products in its portfolio, and China is being ruled by the Communist party favor local products instead of foreign ones.

When he launched WeChat and the video game “Honor King” everyone started using them because they were equivalent to Western apps. Why? Because Ma Huateng made a similar copy of other social media and messaging apps. Many general claims that Tencent made a series of investments in western companies, like Snapchat, Tesla, and Spotify, to watch their development move.

“Tencent has always stayed in tune with ever-advancing technology and has made sure that China never lags behind its western counterparts in the field.” They stated. It was launched in 2011, and since then, they managed to engage over one billion active users. China has a population of 1.4Billion citizens. So, the app is pretty popular there, to say the least.

The app is free to use and available in 20 different languages. It is a very diverse and complex app available on multiple platforms and capable of generating billions of dollars in revenue. Although they had some problems with privacy censorship and social responsibility over the years. It is still popular in Asia and widely used.

Ma Huateng controversies and arbitration

When you do business with China, you must abide by its rules. For instance, if you have a browser like google, you need to apply the censorship rules of China and block certain websites and news because these are the rules. And if you don’t follow, you get kicked out of their market. Ma Huateng is involved in politics and the community. He cares a lot about his clients and users, so if the government asks him to censor or forbid something, he will do it.

One of the most controversial favors he made was when the government said the game Tencent released was too addictive for teenagers. So, they immediately limited game time for teenagers to 3 hours and banned children from logging in after 9 P.M.

As we mentioned before, Tencent has also copied some other products. As a result, he had to pay the price for it 20 years ago. AOL acquired ICQ, an Israeli-based product, to find out later that Tencent had copied their product with QI CQ, so they immediately filed a lawsuit for copyright. Later, Ma Huateng rebranded copied products to QQ.


There are very few billionaires who pay as much as Ma Huateng did. He donated $2 billion worth of shares to his charitable foundation toward development in the medical, educational, and environmental sectors in China, and causes related to those fields. His donation is the second biggest donation in the history of China. There are more billionaires in China than in America, but if you look at their donations towards humanity, they don’t give much money to charity as Americans. But Ma Huateng did previously by donating $3billion to earthquake victims and other thousands of dollars for various scholarships.

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