Chinese billionaire Pony Ma does not flaunt his strategies like Alibaba’s Jack Ma or Japanese mogul Masayoshi Son.
Pony Ma’s company, Tencent, has moved with the stealth of its founder which year, producing a series of investments in Western companies which are significant, however not splashy: A 5 percent stake in Tesla, a 10 percent stake in Snap, an investment in Essential Products, as well as right now, reportedly, a 10 percent stock swap with Spotify.
With the possible exception of social media company Snap, these companies — a carmaker, a phone maker as well as a music streaming app — have little to do with WeChat as well as video games, all part of Tencent’s core businesses.
Yet they do have something in common: They are among the few companies which are considered contenders against companies like Facebook, Apple, Amazon as well as Google.
Tencent may not be well-known to American consumers, however which recently became the first Asian tech company to be valued over $500 billion, on the heels of companies like Facebook as well as Amazon. as well as its long enjoyed a ‘frenemy’ sort of relationship with the biggest U.S. Internet firms.
Amazon helped back Tencent’s investment in Essential’s brand-new phone, for example, as well as Tencent-backed “League of Legends” can be a well-liked attraction on Amazon’s gaming platform, Twitch. At the same time, Tencent launched a U.S.-rival to Amazon Web Services.
Analysts have pointed to WeChat’s popularity in China as a major challenge for Apple — which in response has tried to beef up its own messaging platforms as well as offer prompt cooperation with Chinese lawmakers. (When asked about which relationship recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “I see Tencent as one of our biggest as well as best developers,” as well as pledged to work more with Tencent going forward.)
Facebook’s relationship with Tencent can be perhaps the most rivalrous. According to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg swooped in on Tencent’s talks to acquire WhatsApp while Ma was recovering coming from back surgery.
as well as in addition to its stake in Tesla, Tencent has also an autonomous car project, a health diagnostics platform, advertising services, as well as additional “moonshot” projects which should sound familiar to any investor in companies like Alphabet.
As 2017 comes to a close, which’s more clear than ever which Tencent can be a silent threat to American technology giants. The company lurks under the guise of mid-sized companies across Silicon Valley, ready to ambush.
When critics have questioned whether upstarts like Snap or Spotify can take on Facebook as well as Apple, Tencent has come to their defense behind the front lines as well as strengthened their odds.
Perhaps the enemies of Tencent’s enemies can look forward to more big checks.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal can be an investor in Snap.