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Are you paying attention to Tencent? You should.
The Chinese gaming, messaging, and other digital services company isn’t exactly new. Public in Hong Kong for 14 years, it is worth half a trillion dollars—no typo. Yet because Westerners typically don’t use its WeChat service to play games, chat by voice or text, or make payments, Tencent is relatively unknown by consumers outside China.
Businesses, particularly in gaming, know all about Tencent. It has been a voracious investor around the world, as The Wall Street Journal summarized Wednesday. One investment looks particularly shrewd. Tencent owns 40% of Epic Games, the North Carolina maker of the runaway hit Fortnite. Breakingviews cites analysis from researcher SuperData that Fortnite alone rang up sales of $223 million in March—also not a typo. Tencent plans to bring the game to China.
Despite owning stakes in Western mainstays like Tesla, Snap, and Activision Blizzard, Tencent hasn’t made any aggressive moves to become an operator in the West. It has the cash if it chooses to do so. First-quarter revenue jumped nearly 50% to $12 billion. Profits were $3.65 billion.
These are numbers worth paying attention to.
Many of you wrote Wednesday to tell me the link to Tom Wolfe’s famous Esquire profile of Intel’s Bob Noyce was broken. Indeed, Esquire, which sells access to all its old articles, had a technical glitch. It fixed the problem and then graciously made Wolfe’s epic Silicon Valley yarn available for free here. Enjoy.
I’ve become a fan of The Daily, the 20-minute podcast from The New York Times and a good example of how the formerly stodgy paper is lapping the competition in terms of product development. If you’d like to sample it, listen to “When Facebook Rumors Incite Real Violence,” which you can find at The Daily’s home page. It’s a gripping and tragic story and illustrates well the ramifications of allowing a media company to deny that label—with horrifying consequences.