Tencent Inc. (www.tencent.com) otherwise known as Tencent Holding Limited are a Chinese investment company who specialise in providing a number of websites and services in China where the Internet is strictly controlled. It is the third largest Internet company in the world with only Google and Amazon pipping it to the post. Its revenues in 2010 were over $38 Billion, which is no small figure considering the majority of their operations happen in China alone. Let’s take a little look at the history of this company.
The company ‘Naspers’ who were based in South Africa purchased a share of the company in 2001 and at that point they owned 46% of tencent. The amount they owned fell down to 35% over the next few years. At this time the company had to change their product name from OICQ to QQ (www.qq.com – Qzone) as AOL requested a name change, although at the time it was commonly believed that it was ‘ICQ’ that requested the change. The company joined the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2008.
The bulk of income for the company originally came from the advertising on their QQ platform, however over the years diversification has taken place and now it is derived from a multitude of applications. This includes charging for cell phone use of the messaging system as well as licensing out the ‘Penguin Mascot’ to a variety of companies, it seems that no matter where you look in China you will be greeted by this rather friendly looking penguin.
In addition to their core messaging system the company has a variety of other products under their belt. This includes a television service, Longhaier which is a student-based social network that operates in China as well as a multitude of MMORPG games. They originally began to license South Korean games but they have seen diversified and developed their own products. The majority of the revenue earned in these games is down to the fact that they charge for ‘bonus’ items in the game.
In 2006 they launched an auction site in a similar vein to eBay which can be found at PaiPai.com. Around the same time they launched a search engine called ‘soso.com’. The company currently owns the largest social networking site in China called Qzone which was launched in 2008.
The company has come under a great deal of criticism as many people believe they simply copy Western Ideas. This include the auction website, but more recently ‘Tencent Weibo’ which is a microblogging website similar to Twitter.
This is just a brief overview of the history of Tencent Inc, despite being the largest internet company in China they show absolutely no sign of slowing down on their ventures, recently they have expanded into the western market with the purchase of a stake in Epic Games, the developers of Gears of War. If they continue to expand at this rate then they will truly be a force to rival other big Internet players, especially Google.
Read more about Tencent HERE.