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Ma Huateng, CEO of Tencent, Entrepreneur, Ma Huateng Biography,
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Ma Huateng: The Visionary Behind Tencent’s Global Empire

Early Life

Ma Huateng, born on October 29, 1971, in Chaoyang, China, moved to Shenzhen when his father, Ma Chenshu, secured a job as a port manager near Hong Kong. In 1989, Ma enrolled at Shenzhen University, where he graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in computer science.

Ma Huateng


Ma Huateng began his career at China Motion Telecom Development, earning $176 per month. Concurrently, he worked at Shenzhen Runxun Communications Co Ltd, focusing on the research and development of internet calling services.

In 1998, Ma co-founded Tencent. The company’s first product was inspired by ICQ, the world’s first internet instant messaging service developed by an Israeli company in 1996. Reflecting on Tencent’s early days, Ma told China Daily in 2009, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. We knew our product had a future, but at that time, we just couldn’t afford it.”

In 2000, Tencent secured investment from the US firm IDC and Hong Kong’s Pacific Century CyberWorks, selling 40% of its shares for $2.2 million. The company’s revenue surged as telecom operators agreed to share message fees.

Tencent, under Ma’s leadership, developed WeChat, China’s most popular mobile instant messaging service. The company expanded its portfolio to include media, entertainment, payment systems, smartphones, and various internet-related services, becoming one of the largest internet and technology companies globally.

Honors and Achievements

Ma Huateng has been repeatedly recognized for his influence and achievements:

  • Named one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine in 2007, 2014, and 2018.
  • Listed among the world’s most powerful people by Forbes in 2015.
  • Ranked among the top businessmen of the year by Fortune in 2017.
  • Featured as one of the “Most Powerful People in the World” by CEOWORLD magazine in 2018.

Despite his low-profile personality, Ma has been compared to Warren Buffett for his investment strategies and is known as an “aggressive acquisitor.” In 2017, he became the first Chinese citizen to enter Forbes’ top 10 richest list, briefly surpassing Larry Page and Sergey Brin. As of September 2023, Bloomberg Billionaires Index estimates his net worth at $37.5 billion, making him the 33rd wealthiest person in the world, while Forbes ranks him as the fourth wealthiest person in China and the 34th globally with a net worth of $34.5 billion.

Political Involvement

Ma has served as a deputy to the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Congress and a delegate in the 12th National People’s Congress, reflecting his involvement in China’s political landscape.


Ma Huateng is also known for his philanthropic efforts, contributing to various social and scientific causes.


Ma Huateng’s journey from a modest upbringing to becoming a leading figure in the global tech industry exemplifies his visionary leadership and innovative spirit. Under his guidance, Tencent has transformed into a global powerhouse, reshaping the internet and technology landscape in China and beyond.


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