26 September 2018

High anxiety for Tencent’s Pony Ma at head of tech herd

Tencent (00700.HK) CEO Pony Ma {馬化騰} may be head of the first mainland internet company to pass the US$100 billion market-cap mark but he’s far from complacent about the achievement.

Quite the opposite. Ma told a forum organized by his company on Sunday that Tencent’s sky-high market value made him worry. That’s because survival in the tech industry is like constantly swimming against the current — stop and be swept away or press on and gain a little new ground.

The demise of tech giants Nokia and BlackBerry are salutary lessons on the importance of continued innovation. Even so, there is no guarantee that big companies like Tencent can stay in the lead forever, Ma was quoted by mainland media as saying.

Ma didn’t offer much in the way of specifics on how Tencent aims to sustain its success, but he did give a few broad strokes on the future of the tech industry, which may shed light on the company’s direction.

It’s important for big players to be open and willing to cooperate with other companies. Also, it’s often the smaller but innovative tech firms that can challenge the big names, quoted him as saying.

No one company could satisfy all customers’ needs so “big companies should focus on building their platforms. If some projects aren’t up to the market’s standard, be prepared to let go, just give them to someone more suitable,” Ma told the forum.

The comments are in line with the open-platform strategy Tencent declared in 2011. The group said it would open up its platform so that third parties could take advantage of the huge traffic within its empire. Ten million developers have signed up to it since then and Tencent has shared 3 billion yuan (US$490 million) to them.

Ma also drew attention to the huge potential yet to be unleashed in the mobile internet market. The market for mobile internet could be as much as 10 times the amount generated online during the personal computer era. This is definitely the future of the market, but the road to success is paved with trial and error, he said.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]


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