Tencent Holdings Limited (Chinese: 腾讯控股有限公司; pinyin: Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī) is a Chinese multinational investment holding conglomerate founded in 1998, whose subsidiaries specialise in various Internet-related services and products, entertainment, artificial intelligence and technology both in China and globally. Its twin-skyscrapers headquarters Tencent Seafront Towers (also known as Tencent Binhai Mansion) are based in Nanshan District, Shenzhen.
|Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī|
|Founded||11 November 1998|
|Headquarters||Tencent Binhai Mansion, Nanshan District, |
|Worldwide (mainly Greater China)|
|Revenue||CN¥237.760 billion (2017)|
|CN¥90.302 billion (2017)|
|CN¥72.471 billion (2017)|
|Total assets||CN¥554.672 billion (2017)|
|Total equity||CN¥277.093 billion (2017)|
Number of employees
"Tencent" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
|Tencent Holdings, Ltd.|
Tencent is the world's largest gaming company, one of the world's most valuable technology conglomerates, one of the world's largest social media companies, and one of the world's largest venture capital firms and investment corporations. Its many services include social network, music, web portals, e-commerce, mobile games, internet services, payment systems, smartphones, and multiplayer online games, which are all among the world's biggest and most successful in their respective categories. Offerings in China include the instant messenger Tencent QQ and one of the largest web portals, QQ.com. It also owns the majority of China's music services (Tencent Music Entertainment), with more than 700 million active users and 120 million paying subscribers. The company surpassed the market value of US$500 billion in 2018, becoming the first Asian technology company to cross the valuation mark. It has since then emerged as one of Asia's most valuable companies, and among the world's top technology companies by market value. Tencent has been credited as one of the world's most innovative companies by numerous media and firms, including Boston Consulting Group. As of 2018, Tencent has the 5th highest global brand value.
Tencent controls hundreds of subsidiaries and associates in numerous industries and areas, creating a broad portfolio of ownerships and investment across a diverse range of businesses including e-commerce, retail, video gaming, real estate, software, virtual reality, ride-sharing, banking, financial services, fintech, consumer technology, computer technology, automobile, film production, movie ticketing, music production, space technology, natural resources, smartphones, big data, agriculture, medical services, cloud computing, social media, IT, advertising, streaming media, artificial intelligence, robotics, UAVs, food delivery, courier services, e-book, internet services, education and renewable energy. It is one of the most active and successful investment corporations in the world, with stakes in over 600 companies, and recent focus on start-ups within Asia’s burgeoning tech scene.
1998–2010: Founding and growthEdit
Tencent was founded by Ma Huateng, Zhang Zhidong, Xu Chenye, Chen Yidan and Zeng Liqing in November 1998 as Tencent Inc. Incorporated in the Cayman Islands, initial funding was provided to it by venture capitalists. In February 1999, Tencent's messenger product OICQ released. Shortly after, Tencent had its name changed to QQ; this was said to be due to a lawsuit threat from ICQ and its owner AOL. The company remained unprofitable for the first three years. South African media company Naspers purchased a 46.5% share of Tencent in 2001. (As of 2014, it owns 34%.) Tencent Holding Ltd was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on 16 June 2004, and it was added as a Hang Seng Index Constituent Stock in 2008. The company originally derived income solely from advertising and premium users of QQ, who pay monthly fees to receive added extras. But by 2005, charging for use of QQ mobile, its cellular value-added service, and licensing its penguin character, which could be found on snack food and clothing, had also become income generators. By 2008, Tencent was seeing profit growth from the sale of virtual goods. While Tencent's services have included online gaming since 2004, around 2007–2008 it rapidly increased its offerings by licensing games. While at least two, CrossFire and Dungeon Fighter Online, were originally produced by South Korean game developers, Tencent now makes its own games.
2011–2014: Early investmentsEdit
On 18 February 2011, Tencent acquired a majority equity interest (92.78%) in Riot Games, developer of League of Legends, for about US$230 million. Tencent had already held 22.34% of the equity interest out of a previous investment in 2008. On 16 December 2015, Riot Games sold its remaining equity to Tencent Holdings. Tencent acquired a minority stake in Epic Games, developer of franchises like Unreal, Gears of War and Infinity Blade, in June 2012. Tencent in 2013 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 US$46.98 million investment. Tencent took part in Activision Blizzard splitting from Vivendi as a passive investor in 2013 and now owns less than 4.9% of the shares as of 2017. On 17 September 2013, it was announced that Tencent had invested $448 million for a minority share in Chinese search engine Sogou.com, the subsidiary of Sohu, Inc.
On 15 January 2014, Tencent said it will invest HKD 1.5 billion (US$193.45 million) in logistics and warehouse firm China South City Holdings Ltd to develop its e-commerce and logistics business. On 27 February 2014, Tencent purchased a 20-percent stake in restaurant ratings and group buying website Dianping for $400 million. On 10 March 2014, Tencent bought a 15 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce website JD.com Inc. by paying cash and handing over its e-commerce businesses Paipai, QQ Wanggou and a stake in Yixun to JD.com to build a stronger competitor to Alibaba Group. On 22 May 2014, JD.com got listed on NASDAQ and Tencent expanded its stake in the company to 17.43% on a fully diluted basis by investing an additional US$1,325 million. On 27 March 2014, it was announced that Tencent had agreed to pay about $500 million for a 28 percent stake in South Korea's CJ Games. On 27 June 2014, Tencent announced that it had agreed to buy a 19.9 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce website 58.com (WUBA) Inc. for $736 million. On 17 April 2015, Tencent announced it has bought an additional $400 million worth of shares, rising its stake in the company to about 25%. On 16 October 2014, via its wholly held subsidiary Hongze Lake Investment Ltd, Tencent announced that it had bought a 7% stake in lottery technology firm China LotSynergy Holdings Ltd for HKD 445.5 million (US$57.4 million). On 23 October 2014, Tencent pitched in $145 million for a 10 percent stake in Koudai Gouwu, a Chinese mobile shopping portal. In November 2014, the company announced a deal with HBO which would give it exclusive rights for distribution in China. On 9 December 2014, Chinese taxi-hailing app Didi Dache announced that it had raised more than $700 million in a funding round led by Tencent and Singaporean state investment firm Temasek Holdings.
2015–2018: Continued investmentsEdit
On January 2015, Tencent launched WeBank (China), China's first online-only bank. On 30 January 2015, Tencent announced that it had signed a US$700 million deal with the National Basketball Association to stream American basketball games in China. Later that year, Chinese automaker BYD became the chief corporate sponsor for Tencent's NBA broadcasts.
On 27 February 2015, Tencent announced that it had acquired a minority stake in Robot Entertainment, the developer of the Orcs Must Die! videogame series. At the same time, Brand Finance releases 2017 Global Top 500 Brands List, Tencent ranked 47th. On 29 April 2015, Tencent acquired a minority stake in videogame developer and publisher Glu Mobile, paying US$126 million for 14.6 percent of the company. On 13 May 2015, Tencent acquired a minority stake in mobile developer Pocket Gems, acquiring 20 percent of the company for the price of US$60 million. On 21 June 2016 Tencent announced a deal to acquire 84.3% of Finland-based videogame developer Supercell with US$8.6 billion. In July 2016, Tencent acquired a majority stake in China Music Corporation.
In 2016, Tencent, together with Foxconn and luxury-car dealer Harmony New Energy Auto founded Future Mobility, a car startup that aims to sell all-electric fully autonomous premium cars in 2020. On 28 March 2017, Tesla, Inc. announced Tencent had purchased a 5% stake in Tesla for US$1.78 billion. The Wall Street Journal at the time called Tencent China's "most valuable company." In a "direct challenge to Chinese search engine Baidu," in May 2017 Tencent entered news feed and search functions for its WeChat app, which the Financial Times reported was used by 770 million people at the time.
In April 2017, Tencent unveiled its own flagship gaming platform, WeGame which will host games, content, and services from all over the world and will provide gaming info, purchases, downloads, live streaming and community services, creating an open ecosystem for gaming. WeGame is an upgraded version of TGP (Tencent Games Platform) that already has more than 200 million active users (compared to Steam's 125 million) and over 4.5 billion downloads, and is widely considered as a direct competitor to Steam. It will be dedicated to both global developers and players, and will assist developers who require help with translation. The gaming platform will support both Chinese and global users through a single storefront and is due to go online on 1 September 2017, Tencent has stated that the platform will focus on PC and standalone games and will no longer host web or mobile games, and will provide support to small and indie companies. Aside from mainstream games, the company has promised to also launch titles which include Stardew Valley, Rocket League, Portal Knights, Minecraft, Cities: Skylines, with 170 games promised by the end of 2017. There are expectations that WeGame will grow huge and successful globally with its new focus on Western users, combined with the massive buying power of today's Asian consumers.
In May 2017, Tencent surpassed Wells Fargo to enter the world's top 10 most valuable companies. Tencent has also entered an agreement with Wuhu City Council to build the world's first eSports town in the Chinese city of Wuhu, which comprises an eSports theme park, eSports university, cultural and creative park, animation industrial park, creative block, tech entrepreneurial community and Tencent Cloud's data center. The site will be used for the education and accommodation of future eSports players, as well as hosting national eSports events and serving as a hub for Tencent's game development. Aside from Wuhu, another eSports theme park has been planned in Chengdu.
In June 2017, Tencent became the 8th most valuable company in BrandZ's Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, signalling its growing influence globally as well as the rise of Chinese brands. Alibaba overtook Tencent as Asia's most valuable company as its stocks surged after the company hosted its 2017 Investor's day. The company has also developed its own voice assistant Xiaowei, and is in the midst of discussion to acquire Rovio Entertainment, the developer of Angry Birds. At the same period, Tencent introduced its mini-programs feature that allows smartphone users to access mobile apps across the globe on WeChat without downloading them.
In July 2017, Tencent bought a 9% share in Frontier Developments, the creator of the Elite: Dangerous and Planet Coaster franchises; as well as developer for Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 & 3. In September 2017, Tencent invested US$90 million in German aviation start-up Lilium Aviation, which specialises in developing and building high speed flying vehicles and electric jets.
In August 2017, after Tencent announced the second quarter 2016 financial report, the stock price rose by 6% in the Hong Kong stock market, and the market value reached US$429 billion. Tencent became the second Asian company after Alibaba Group to surpass US$400 billion market cap. Tencent has also created an alliance to its own AI self-driving program, similar to Baidu's Apollo Project, recruiting numerous industry players in the automotive industry.
In September 2017, Tencent has announced plans to introduce Chinese online comics to every market around the world, with the first being North America. It will be working with San Francisco-based digital publisher Tapas Media, a partnership that will see English-language releases of a number of popular online Chinese titles. It also enters a partnership with Alibaba Group on music-streaming rights sharing, the deal aims to protect licensed streaming services offering copyrighted content of the music industry, encouraging more high-quality and original music, as well as developing China’s fast-growing streaming market. Alibaba will gain the rights to stream music from international labels, which already have exclusive deals with Tencent, in return for offering reciprocal rights to its catalogue of Chinese and Japanese music. Tencent plans to increase its advertising revenues through artificial intelligence and branded virtual costumes in video games. It is also collaborating with L'Oréal, the world's largest cosmetics company, to explore digital marketing under the Joint Business Partnership (JBP) agreement and unleash new marketing innovations.
Tencent has announced a partnership with Nintendo to publish its widely popular game Honor of Kings (King of Glory) into Nintendo Switch, causing Nintendo's stock to hit a 9-year-high, as well as JD.com to create and sell a line of merchandise (from clothing to accessories to other products), based on Tencent's games and intellectual properties. It will also be working with China International Capital Corporation (CICC) in financial services, capitalising on each other's strength, while acquiring a 5% equity stake in the investment banking firm. The announcement of the deal propelled CICC's shares by as much as 16 percent. Tencent Pictures unveiled that it intends to expand co-operation with overseas film and TV companies on new productions, as well as making more long-term investments in the movie and TV industry. Tencent has also signed an agreement with Helsinki and World Tourism Cities Federation to provide intelligent tourism services to Chinese tourists, with Helsinki serving as an intelligent tourism model for China's outbound tourism.
In November 2017, Tencent revealed that it had purchased a 12% stake in Snap Inc in the open market, with plans to help establish Snapchat as a gaming platform. The company also owns 44% stake in Sogou, a search engine company which started trading in New York on 9 November 2017. Tencent remained the largest video game publisher in the world by revenue, and had a market capitalisation of around $475 billion. In the same month, Tencent announced the company's Q3 results that exceeded optimistic expectations with skyrocketing sales, net income and gaming revenue, while Wechat reached 980 million monthly active users. It will be earmarking billions of dollars to amass a catalogue of user-generated content, in competition with YouTube. The company also broke records by becoming the first Asian company to cross US$500 billion valuation, and surpassing Facebook to enter the top 5 list of the world's biggest firms.
On 22 November 2017, Tencent formally entered into a strategic co-operation with PUBG corporation and obtain exclusive rights to operate ''Playerunknown's Battlegrounds'' in China. On 23 November, Tencent and Hong Kong railway Co., Ltd fomally signed a co-operation agreement. The two parties cooperated on WeChat payment and WeChat Pay HK (WeChat Hong Kong Wallet) in mobile payment business of MTR.
In December 2017, Tencent's music arm, Tencent Music Entertainment (TME) and Spotify agreed to swap 10% stake and invested in each other's music businesses, forming an alliance in the music industry in which Martin Lau (president of Tencent) described it as a "strategic collaboration".
In January 2018, Tencent and The Lego Group, the world's largest toy company, are teaming up to jointly develop online games and potentially a social network aimed at children. It also launched its first unmanned shop in Shanghai, joining the likes of other major e-commerce companies including Alibaba, Amazon and JD.com, receiving over 30,000 visitors in the first two days of its opening. Tencent led a US$5.2 billion investment in Wanda Commercial, together with JD.com, Sunac and Suning Group, to acquire shares in the conglomerate. Wanda Commercial will be renamed as Wanda Commercial Management Group, with its new investors on the board, it represents one of the world's largest single strategic investments between internet companies and brick-and-mortar commercial giants. Tencent bought a 5% to 10% minority stake in Skydance Media.
On 23 January 2018, Tencent and Carrefour reached strategic co-operation agreement in China. Tencent said it was looking forward to working with Carrefour to further enrich the retail and service experience of its users and to strengthen Carrefour's services with Tencent's technological capabilities such as mobile payments, digital affiliate programs, customer acquisition and cloud services. Between Carrefour and RT-Mart, Ali chose RT-Mart. This is a great shock to Carrefour and Tencent. So it took only two months and the two parties reached a co-operation. Tencent's stock also rose 3.17% on the day to close at HKD474.6.
In March 2018, Tencent acquired a 5% stake in Ubisoft from Vivendi, and in May 2018 it acquired a majority stake in the New Zealand company Grinding Gear Games, the developers of the game Path of Exile.
In August 15, 2018, Tencent reported a profit decline in the second quarter of 2018, ending a growth streak of more than a decade, as investment gains slid and the government's scrutiny of the gaming business weighed on the company. Shares of internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. fell 3% in morning trade in Hong Kong after the rare drop in quarterly profit was reported, extending a slide that has wiped nearly $50 billion in market value from the company in that week. The sell-off dragged down many other Chinese internet stocks as well.
For the occasion of the 19th National Party Congress, Tencent released a mobile game titled "Clap for Xi Jinping: An Awesome Speech”, in which players have 19 seconds to generate as many claps as possible for Xi.
Starting in 2016, Tencent developed a video gaming console dubbed TGP (Tencent Gaming Platform) Box. The TGP BOX is called the Blade. It is an Intel- powered console running Windows 10 and a TGP Box mode. So far, the TGP console has imported many Tencent games, such as League of Legends, FIFA Online 3, NBA 2K, Monster Hunter, Need for Speed, etc. Tencent hopes to bring third-party developed games.
Branching out from messaging products, Tencent's first game was QQ Tang (QQ堂) in 2004. This was soon followed QQ YinSu (QQ音速) in 2006 and QQ SanGuo(QQ三国) in 2007. In 2011, Tencent started hosting the game League of Legends. Tencent's mobile game Honor of Kings was the most downloaded app in the world on the IOS App Store in the first quarter of 2017.
Tencent sells virtual goods for use in their MMOs, its IM client, social networking sites, and for mobile phones. Income from the sale of virtual goods was a large proportion of Tencent's revenue in 2009.
Tencent's online currency, QQ Coins, can be used to purchase virtual goods. These range from the offbeat, such as virtual pets and the virtual clothing, jewellery, and cosmetics needed to customise online-game avatars, to the more mundane, such as more storage space, wallpapers, bigger photo albums, and ring tones.
Tencent's headquarters are located in the Southern Hi-Tech Park District (Chinese: 新科技园 xīnkējìyuán) in Nanshan District, Shenzhen. Among other notable sites are a 48,000 square meter compound that houses an R&D center in the Chengdu Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, a data and R&D center in Tianjin's Binhai Service Outsourcing Industry Park that is expected to be finished by June 2013, 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.
Tencent is threatening Apple and Spotify's market dominance, especially in Southeast Asia. Similarly, Tencent is expanding aggressively in India.
Products and servicesEdit
Tencent offers a variety of services to consumers and businesses.
Launched in February 1999, Tencent QQ is Tencent's first and most notable product, QQ is one of the most popular instant messaging platforms in its home market. As of 31 December 2010, there were 647.6 million active Tencent QQ IM user accounts, making Tencent QQ the world's largest online community at the time. The number of QQ accounts connected simultaneously has, at times, exceeded 100 million.
While the IM service is free, as of 2006 a fee was being charged for mobile messaging.
An English version of QQ that allows communication with mainland accounts, QQi is available for Windows and macOS.
A social networking/blogging service that launched in 2005. integrated with QQ, Qzone as of 2008 has become one of the largest social networking service in China.
Tencent Games (Chinese: 腾讯游戏; pinyin: Téngxùn Yóuxì) is the video game publishing division of Tencent Interactive Entertainment, itself a division of Tencent. Tencent Games was founded in 2003 to focus on online games. As of March 2018, Tencent is the largest video game company in the world.
These massively multiplayer online games include Call of Duty Online, a massively multiplayer online game that consists of previous Call of Duty titles with added content; Dungeon Fighter Online, a side-scrolling online fighting game; QQ Fantasy, a 2D online game that incorporates elements from Chinese mythology; Xunxian, a 3D, online RPG; QQ Sanguo, 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 three online first-person shooters; Call of Duty Mobile, CrossFire and AVA.
In 2017, 21 April, Tencent announced the rebranding of its Chinese 'Tencent game platform' as WeGame, which was launched in September 2017. Tencent has since announced plans to develop a Hong Kong edition of WeGame that can be used by players outside of China, potentially setting up the platform to compete with Valve Corporation's Steam platform.
WeChat is a social mobile application with voice and text messaging, timeline, and several social features like 'drift a bottle'. It is the most popular social mobile application in China and some overseas Chinese communities, for instance, Malaysia. WeChat would like to have expanded more abroad but, as of 2017, was unsuccessful in penetrating major international markets outside of China.
Digital payment systemEdit
TenPay is an online payment system similar to PayPal, it supports B2B, B2C, and C2C payments. In some Chinese cities individuals can use TenPay for utility payments and to refill their public transport cards. Co-branded credit cards are available, and credit card bills can also be paid using the service. Offline recharging of your TenPay account is possible, as the company sends employees to collect customer money in person.
In 2014, Tencent established exclusive in-China distribution agreements with several large music producers, including Sony, Warner Music Group and YG Entertainment and in 2017 it signed a deal with Universal Music Group to stream its music in China.
Tencent Penguin Pictures (Chinese: 腾讯企鹅影视) is a Chinese film and web content production company owned by Tencent. It is under the Online Media Business Unit at Tencent and works closely with Tencent Video.
Real estate informationEdit
QQ Haiwai is Tencent's first venture into international real estate listings and information and is the result of a partnership with Chinese international real estate website Juwai.com. Haiwai was announced at Tencent's annual regional summit in Beijing on 21 December 2016.
Video sharing and streamingEdit
Tencent Video is a video streaming website owned by Tencent.
Streaming media playerEdit
In 2008, Tencent released a media player, available for free download, under the name QQ Player.
Tencent Weiyun is a cloud storage service that offers 10 GB of free storage ( was 1 TB until 16 January 2017). It is available in Chinese for free, and English with a payment. Requires an SMS phone number for verification of account registration.
In late April 2017, Tencent announced it was preparing to launch its virtual reality headset that year.
Tencent officially commences operations of its first insurance agency platform, WeSure Internet Insurance Ltd. (WeSure). WeSure will work with well-known domestic insurance companies such as Ping An Insurance to provide users with high-quality insurance services. Users can make insurance purchases, inquiries and claims directly through national-level platforms on the firm's vastly popular instant messaging and lifestyle platform WeChat and its popular instant messaging platform QQ.
Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Co LtdEdit
A software development unit that has created, among others, Tencent Traveler and later versions of QQ IM, as well as some mobile software. This subsidiary is located on the Southern District of Hi-Tech Park, Shenzhen. It also holds a number of patents related to instant messaging and massively multiplayer online game gaming.
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 with Tencent is the lack of innovation; all of their products are copies."
Though Tencent is notorious for its copying acts, it is also known for its own innovations in these copies to conform to Chinese consumers' tastes.
As of 2009, the company held 400 patents.
Anti-malware software cheating allegationsEdit
In 2015, security testing firms AV-Comparatives, AV-TEST and Virus Bulletin jointly decided to remove Tencent from their software whitelists. The Tencent products supplied for testing were found to contain optimisations that made the software appear less exploitable when benchmarked but actually provided greater scope for delivering exploits. Additionally, software settings were detrimental to end-users protection if used. Qihoo was later also accused of cheating, while Tencent was accused of actively gaming the anti-malware tests.
Criticism on King of GloryEdit
The People's Daily published two articles criticising Tencent owned game King of Glory, due to its purportedly addictive nature among Chinese youth. Share prices for Tencent dropped by 5% on the days the articles were published.
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