WeChat Owner Tencent Expanding Way Beyond China With Western Investments

November 9, 2017, 6:42 PM UTC

This article first appeared in Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily newsletter on the top tech news. Sign up here.

The prominence of Chinese technology companies is impossible to avoid these days, and the company of the moment is Tencent. Competitor Alibaba (BABA) is better known in the West. Huawei, a network equipment company, suddenly is a leader in smartphones. But Tencent (TCEHY) is in now in the spotlight because its products are a leading example of Chinese innovation and its balance sheet has become a source of funds for startups around the world.

Tencent is no Johnny-come-lately. It is worth nearly $500 billion, and its WeChat messaging service is how young Chinese people communicate. It’s also a major video game publisher, a payments processor, and many more things. Its success begets so many other successes. Just as Masayoshi Son’s fortunes were secured because of SoftBank’s major stake in Alibaba, Tencent has saved the South African media company Naspers. Its early stake in Tencent is so valuable that investors have rated the core business of Naspers as worthless in comparison.

Tencent flexed its muscles Wednesday when it became known that it had upped its stake in struggling Snap (SNAP). It owns significant chunks of Tesla (TSLA), mapmaker HERE Technologies, and many others.

For years Western audiences have slavishly studied the tactics and techniques of its local champions, like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Those worthies still merit the attention. But so do their new counterparts, whose management methods and product development practices are every bit as innovative. Happily for Data Sheet readers and for Fortune, Tencent CEO Pony Ma will appear at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou next month. It should be a memorable, and important, moment.

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