Ma Huateng is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Tencent Holdings, a Chinese instant messaging, mobile gaming and online payment service provider. The Shenzhen-based company reported revenue of 555 billion yuan ($82.5 billion) in 2022. Its mobile messaging application WeChat has about 1.3 billion users.
The majority of Ma’s wealth is derived from a 7.4% stake in Tencent Holdings, a publicly traded instant messaging company. Its WeChat application had 1.3 billion users as of March 31, 2023, according to a company presentation.
Ma owns his stake through the holding company Advanced Data Services, according to the company’s 2022 annual report.
The value of his cash investments is based on an analysis of dividends, insider transactions, taxes and market performance. Gifts including $2.3 billion in Tencent shares that were transferred to a charitable foundation in 2016 are excluded from the net worth calculation.
He also owns properties in Hong Kong, according to local media reports. The properties are valued based on the reported purchase price and adjusted to reflect the market price change recorded by Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.
Canny Lo, a Tencent spokeswoman, confirmed Ma’s stake in the internet company and his irrevocable donation to the foundation.
Education: Shenzhen University
Ma Huateng was born in Shantou, a city in southern China’s Guangdong province, in 1971. His father, Ma Chenshu, moved the family to Hainan, an island off the south coast, and later to Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, where he got a job as a port manager. Ma graduated from Shenzhen University, where he studied computer science, in 1993. His first job was developing software for pagers at China Motion Telecom Development, a supplier of telecommunications services and products in Shenzhen. He earned $176 per month.
Along with a Shenzhen University classmate, Zhang Zhidong, Ma co-founded Tencent in November 1998. The company’s name in mandarin, Tengxun, means galloping message. Its first product was instant messaging software similar to AOL’s ICQ chat service. At first, Ma called the product OICQ, and changed it to QQ a few years later.
The free messaging service attracted more users, requiring more money to maintain it, and in 2000, IDG Venture Investment Fund and PCCW, one of Hong Kong’s largest telecom providers, invested $4.4 million in Tencent, each taking a 20 percent stake. Tencent sold shares to the public in Hong Kong in 2004 and is now China’s largest internet community, offering services including chat, group messaging, news portals, and entertainment as well as e-commerce. It joined the benchmark Hang Seng Index in 2009, replacing PCCW.
Ma sought to boost his company’s competitiveness ahead of the initial public offering of Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group, and in August 2014, Tencent expanded its messaging services, using the technology to push customers to its e-commerce partners. Later that month, he teamed with billionaires Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda Group and Baidu’s Robin Li in an online shopping venture.
- 1971 Ma Huateng is born in Shantou, in China’s Guangdong province.
- 1984 Moves south to Shenzhen with parents.
- 1993 Graduates from Shenzhen University.
- 1998 Co-founds Tencent Holding instant messaging company.
- 2001 Naspers invests $32 million in Tencent for a 47 percent stake.
- 2004 Company sells shares in a Hong Kong initial public offering.
- 2014 Tencent buys a 15 percent stake in JD.com for $215 million.
- 2016 Makes call for China to lower the entry barriers for internet business.