Tencent’s Pony Ma now richest man in Asia

Business & Technology

A summary of the top news in Chinese business and technology for August 9, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Ma Huateng 马化腾, aka Pony Ma, is the lesser known of China’s two top entrepreneurs surnamed “Ma” — the other being the ubiquitous Jack Ma 马云 of Alibaba. Pony has now topped the Forbes rich list for China and Asia, and sits at number 18 in the world, with an estimated net worth of $37 billion, the Washington Post reports. Jack now stands at $36.4 billion.

Pony Ma founded internet giant Tencent, which launched the social media, lifestyle, and payment application that has dominated Chinese smartphones in the past five years: WeChat.

But Tencent’s success has come not just through one product. Jeffrey Towson, a Beijing-based businessman and author, told the Post that the company is highly original, and “not a one-hit-wonder company like Facebook, PayPal and so many others…They keep hitting another ball over the fence every two to three years.”

Caixin reports on what may be Tencent’s next ball: A new credit-rating system called Tencent Credit, which will compete with “the better established and mostly unrivaled Sesame Credit,” owned by Alibaba. Though Sesame Credit has been operating for nearly two years, Tencent’s “market-follower strategy” has worked before when it forces “competitors to bear the risk and costs of innovation.”