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BOOK REVIEW: Ma Huateng and Tencent
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Ma Huateng and Tencent: A Biography of One of China's Greatest Entrepreneurs
(China's Leading Entrepreneurs and Enterprises)
Author: Leng Hu


还记得你第一次上网聊天用的是什么聊天软件吗?有的人会说:MSN,但大多数人肯定会回答:当然是QQ啦。在2011年之前的十年左右的时间里,QQ可以说是每个中国互联网用户的必备品。你的第一次网上虚拟交易用的是QQ币,QQ劲舞团成为了你中学时代对游戏的强烈记忆。在80后90后迈入社会之时,微信的出现几乎取代了QQ的地位并且以其更为方便快捷的操作体验征服了国人的手机。在这个父母老人都会用微信的时代,微信和QQ产品的母公司——腾讯可以说是独霸中国大众在线沟通平台的唯一龙头老大;其幕后的掌舵人正是中国企业界"二马"之一的马化腾(Pony Ma)。

BOOK REVIEW Ma Huateng and Tencent
Of the three founders of the BAT (Baidu-Alibaba-Tencent) trinity, Pony Ma (Ma Huanteng) has least intriguing backstory. He has the most middle-class class background with a father who was a cadre and accountant for the Hainan Port Authority. He attended the best middle school in Shenzhen and successfully completed the gaokao to attend Shenzhen University. After graduating he worked for Runxun Communications Development Company from 1993 to 1999 and then founded Tencent in January 2000.


Ma's rise may have been easiest on him personally, but that does not mean his story is without interest. Tencent has risen to become perhaps China's single world-class software company, with its WeChat app far superior to its Western equivalent Whatsapp. Indeed, Ma largely symbolizes the growth of Shenzhen from a fishing village to China's most dynamic and tech-driven city. (He moved there in 1984 when the city had less than a million people. Between 1995 and 2005 it grew from 2.39 million to 8.41 million). And the story of Tencent's evolution from knock-off purveyor to tech leader also demonstrates the development in the Chinese economy.


This book then is the first examination of the life of Pony Ma and his rise to international prominence. What emerges is the portrait of an entrepreneur and tech enthusiast who proceeds carefully and methodically. Within a year of founding Tencent was making a profit (at a time when Alibaba hadn't even found a way to monetize) and it has carefully charted the vicissitudes of the tech market since then with both nimbleness and vigor. Many tech companies might have fallen by the wayside, for example after introducing charges for registering or being plagued by spam and hackers, or being investigated for allowing online gambling (through its Q coins), but Ma's analytical skills and business savvy attitude are considerable. He may not have the inspirational charisma of Jack Ma, but he has the intellectual firepower and the will to lead Tencent.


As for the book itself, it is a decent portrait of Pony Ma's actions and Tencent's development for those who might be relatively new to him. It is however a pocket-portrait, coming in at just seventy-plus pages. There are numerous paragraphs that simply cry out for a less cursory treatment. So you will read that "Tencent's five founders avoided being crushed by dangers that followed the opening of the market. After their failures, they would actively encourage each other; after every attempt, they would always find users willing to accept them," it asks as many questions as it answers. What dangers? What failures? Encourage how? Accept them how?


But perhaps this book simply wants to be the first on the English-speaking market to have, in tech terms, first-mover advantage. It Is a good introduction to Pony Ma, certainly, but anyone interested enough to buy a book on him is likely to want more. Until then, this one will do.


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