How Pony Ma created Tencent Corporation
The technology giant Tencent is known far beyond China because of its confrontation with another corporation, Alibaba. Now Pony Ma’s business is a large holding company that includes such well-known products as WeChat, QQ, and others. In addition, Tencent holds one of the leading positions in the world in the sector of venture capital investments.
The founder of the corporation is Ma Huateng, who adapted his name for foreigners and began calling himself Pony Ma. The businessman was born in 1971 in Guangdong province, and after some time his family moved to Shenzhen. The young man was educated at a local university, majoring in computer engineering. After that, he changed several companies, until one of them sent Ma on a business trip to the United States. The young man’s attention was caught by ICQ messenger, and he decided to create its analog for the Chinese market. In 1999, Pony introduced OICQ, which had the same features as ICQ, but the interface and a number of features were changed for the Chinese consumer. The logo of the application was a penguin in a scarf, which is now the hallmark of Tencent.
In the first 2 months, OICQ attracted more than 200 thousand users, and by the end of the year, their number reached 1 million. Pony Ma was not ready for such a rapid development of events – he did not have enough capital to maintain operations at such volumes. In addition, there was no monetization in the messenger.In order to get out of the situation, the businessman sold 20% of the application and received $2.2 million for it, which allowed him to increase his user base to 50 million people by 2001. At the same time, the messenger, or rather its similarity to its product, was noticed by the American company AOL, the developer of ICQ. To avoid a lawsuit, Ma renamed the application QQ and registered his own company Tencent.
In 2002, the messenger introduced monetization in the form of paid subscriptions and advertising. The application also had its own currency, which initially allowed the purchase of various elements for the profile and avatars. In addition, QQ was built into the game, and for coins, it was possible to buy additions. Gradually, virtual currency has evolved, and for it, you can buy very real services, such as goods in the online store. However, this led to the use of coins for transactions in the shadow business, and in 2009, the Chinese government banned such transactions.
At that time, Pony Ma’s business was already becoming a real empire, which now includes a gaming platform, a messenger for Facebook, and a social network. In addition, Tencent owns streaming platforms, video hosting, a payment system, and many other popular services.