Technology

Pony Ma

Photo Visual China Group/Getty Images

Pony Ma has built Tencent into Asia’s biggest company

Profile


The founder, chairman and CEO of Tencent, Pony Ma has grown it from a small technology company providing free instant messaging software to a corporate titan that has been valued at close to US$1 trillion. Asia’s most valuable company and one of the world’s largest, Tencent owns brands including WeChat and QQ, and is the world’s largest gaming company and China’s largest music provider. It also has interests in everything from video streaming to AI medicine, and holds stakes in companies including Tesla, Snap and Spotify.

Pony—a pun on his family name, which means “horse”—founded the company with four classmates in 1998, aged 27, after working for companies including China Motion Telecom Development, where he developed software for pagers. Despite being one of China’s richest people, he is known as a private, low-profile individual who rarely gives interviews. In 2016 he transferred shares worth US$2.3 billion to his Ma Huateng Global Foundation. Ma has been a delegate to the National People’s Congress.

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Did you know?


He might be a regular on global rich lists these days, but for his first job, in the mid-1990s, he reportedly earned just US$176 a month.

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