The first Asian company to rise above half a trillion dollars in value is now officially bigger than Mark Zuckerberg’s social media behemoth.
China’s Tencent Holdings is winning the battle for the burgeoning Southeast Asian virtual marketplace, edging ahead of rivals Alibaba and now Facebook. This is due in large part to the dominance of Tencent’s “WeChat” social media platform and ownership of online gaming blockbusters that include international competitive hit League of Legends and runaway mobile success Honor of Kings.
At nearly one billion users, WeChat is synonymous with social media in China and has begun to look beyond those borders. First up is Malaysia, where half a billion people — one-fifth of whom are ethnically Chinese — are a juicy consumer target.
The forefront of this battle has been Paypal-like services “WeChat Pay” and Alibab’s “Alipay.” While Alibaba’s is already available in 34 countries as opposed to WeChat Pay’s 13, the latter is leading consumers into a WeChat ecosystem that is far more than a payment platform.
The company can already mimic Spotify through Tencent Music and YouTube via Tencent Video, edging toward the sort of brand synergy that Apple has so prominently pursued in North America. Tencent Senior Vice President S.Y. Lau said that the company is “aiming to create is ‘super IPs’ that leverage our different businesses from upstream to downstream.”
Tencent continues to take that same approach to all of its holdings. Its book publishing arm hands off promising licenses to television, movies, and video games. Company President Martin Lau has expressed the megacorp’s intention to invest in a broader spectrum of creative content and online video as they move forward.
Independent tech analyst Richard Windsor can see the writing on the wall. He believes that Tencent is in the “super early stages” of “embarking on a circumnavigation of the digital life pie in order to build an ecosystem to challenge the Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook dominance of consumer digital services.”
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