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Influence Empire

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Influence Empire

Inside the Story of Tencent and China’s Tech Ambition

Hodder & Stoughton,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Audio & text

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Bloomberg reporter Lulu Chen details Tencent’s ascent to become one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

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The riveting saga of Tencent lies in its precipitous rise to be one of the world’s largest tech companies and its struggle to stay competitive within the Chinese business ecosystem, reports Bloomberg journalist Lulu Chen. Those outside its home base of China may never have heard of it, but the tech giant is bigger than Facebook. Learn what’s next for this global powerhouse, how its unique strategy has given it a competitive edge, and what it reveals about China’s regulatory landscape.


Chinese tech giant Tencent powers many of the world’s most popular products and services.

Tencent is one of the most powerful tech companies in the world, yet few outside its home country of China have heard its name. Global awareness of Tencent is on the rise, though, as tensions between China and the United States mount. The tech powerhouse’s wide-ranging services include social networking, digital payments, finance and mobile games. In addition, the company merges the functionality of social media, mobile payments and instant messaging into a single, wildly popular “super-app” called WeChat.

Tencent’s founder Ma Huateng, a billionaire who goes by “Pony,” started his company in 1998, shortly after graduating from Shenzhen University. Pony reached out to Tony Zhang Zhidong, a former classmate. Both were working at rival pager companies. Pony attacked a server belonging to his friend’s employer with malware to playfully get Zhang’s attention.

“It was you, wasn’t it?” Zhidong asked Ma, knowing that only his friend had the capacity to launch such an attack. Pony later asked Zhang to help him build a start-up. Pony put together a small team, and registered a company...

About the Author

Commenter for BBC, ABC, Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg QuickTake, Lulu Chen has spent over a decade covering China and the tech industry for Bloomberg Businessweek and Bloomberg News.

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