He is the richest man in China, 20th in the world with net worth of whooping $38.8 billion. Time magazine called him one of the most influential men in the world several times. In 2017, Fortune placed him on the list of world’s most successful business leaders. Earlier, he was named as one of the most powerful men in the world by Forbes. He is a business magnet, an engineer, a politician, an Internet and technology entrepreneur and a philanthropist at a time. Can you guess who is he? He is Ma Huateng, the CEO of Asia’s most valuable company Tencent, famously known as Pony Ma.
Pony Ma was born on October 29, 1971, in the city of Dongfang in China. He completed his graduation from Shenzhen University on 1993 in computer science. Today’s billionaire Ma began his first job in China Motion Telecom Development company as a software developer with monthly payment of $176 only. After a year or two, he joined Shenzhen Runxun Communications Co. Ltd. and worked for 3 more years before starting his own startup.
Pony Ma was a man of creativity and innovation. He didn’t enjoy his work as there was no scope to show his own creativity. Soon, he decided to begin something innovative of his own. Therefor the Tencent came in 1998 along with the help of 4 of his classmates. The company’s first product was inspired by an Israeli company called ICQ. ICQ was world’s first ever Internet instant messaging service founded in 1996. This messaging service amused Ma so emphatically that he couldn’t resist producing a similar software, slightly different from the original one named Open ICQ or OICQ. This software received thunderous response gaining more than a million registered operators within a year.
Meanwhile, Tencent had to change its messaging platform’s name to QQ in the year 2000. A company called AOL (American Online) filed a lawsuit against Pony Ma and his company’s messaging platform OICQ for violating the intellectual property right of ICQ. Earlier, AOL had bought the ICQ. This lawsuit compelled Ma to change the name from OICQ to QQ.
However, with QQ, Tencent got the expected start which potentially paved the way for doing big. But, technology was growing faster than ever from 2000 onwards. At this period of time, pager market was declining and Ma envisioned its future. So, he decided to improve the messaging platform of his company which would allow the users to send message directly to mobile phones. This was a major renovation resulting in 80% of the company’s total revenue coming from telecom operators.
After the lawsuit event, Ma realized one thing that he had to expand his company and think big for bigger competition. So he launched the company’s own portal QQ.com for more exposure in 2003. The following year, Tencent entered the online gaming market with a storm. Soon, the company became China’s biggest messaging platform, holding 74% of the market. This success led Ma to invest in Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Fortune favoured him this time as well. His company garnered $200 million from the June’s IPO that year making him the richest man in China’s telecom industry at the time.
Ma’s triumph continued as he kept pouring ideas for the company all the time. In fact, he emphasized on execution more than producing ideas. In 2010, he supervised the creation of a new app, handy for instant messaging and group chat called ‘Weixin’ in Chinese, WeChat in English. By 2015, only 5 years after the launch, WeChat earned the reputation of world’s largest messaging platform attracting more than 48% of the total Internet users. Ma also opened multiplayer gaming and e-commerce service for Tencent. Later, he introduced the idea of Internet hospital with Tencent for long distance diagnosis and medication.
Ma Huateng started using his nickname Pony back in 2000s. Pony is the English translation of his family name. He is a man of work known for his secretive and simple lifestyle. He seldom appears in the media as he doesn’t like individual exposure. He married his classmate at Shenzhen University, Wang Dan Ting. The couple is a very happy one. Ma is so secretive about his family life that his children’s names are yet to be known! Ma also joined in politics. He is currently serving in the 12th National People’s Congress. He continues to keep warm relationship with the Communist Party of China.