High-flying internet firms, including Tencent and Kuaishou, hand out stock and other bonuses ahead of Lunar New Year amid competition for top talent

Josh Ye
·3-min read

Chinese tech companies, including Tencent Holdings, Kuaishou and Huawei Technologies Co, are rewarding employees with bonuses ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday in a bid to retain talent in an industry that heated up during the stay-at-home economy spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic last year.

Tencent, the world’s biggest gaming company and developer of China’s ubiquitous super app WeChat, was the first to confirm that it is rewarding some of its employees with 100 shares of stock. That amounts to a bonus of HK$75,700 (US$9,765) based on Thursday’s closing price, with Tencent stock trading at prices 85 per cent higher than last year.

Now the company behind the hit short video app Kuaishou, which just had its initial public offering this month, is also giving some employees 100 shares of stock, according to Chinese news outlet Jiemian. The shares are worth HK$39,800 based on Thursday’s closing price.

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Kuaishou did not respond to a request for comment.

Kuaishou is the biggest rival in China to ByteDance’s Douyin, the domestic version of TikTok, and has become a magnet for investors who see potential in the company’s popular live-streaming e-commerce business. The company raised US$5.4 billion from its IPO, making it the biggest IPO since Uber in 2019.

Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei also confirmed to the Post that it is offering employees stock dividends at 1.86 yuan per share. The total payout amounts to about 40 billion yuan (US$6.2 billion), according to the same Jiemian report.

Huawei refers to itself as an employee-owned company with more than 96,700 shareholding employees as of 2018. Most stock of the company is owned by a labour union on behalf of employees, who have limited rights to their shares (which must remain within the company), but they can share in benefits such as dividends.

Huawei suffered a rough 2020, with tightening sanctions from the US that eventually led the company to sell its rising Honor smartphone brand. This has made it more difficult for a company facing an increasingly competitive industry at home, where many other tech companies have been hauling in record revenue. This has incentivised tech companies to splurge on employee bonuses this year.

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Some companies are also using other types of bonuses to entice workers. In the video games industry, project-based bonuses for developers of hit titles could amount to millions of yuan.

Lilith Games, an up-and-coming Shanghai-based gaming studio, will reportedly divide the 190 million yuan in profit from the new game AFK Arena among the members of the team responsible for it, according to Chinese state-owned media outlet Time Weekly.

Game developer Yoozoo will also distribute a total of 10 million yuan worth of bonuses to the team behind Junior Three Kingdom 2, according to the same report. Yoozoo has faced other challenges recently after the suspected poisoning of founder and former CEO Lin Qi. He died in December at the age of 39.

The generosity of high-flying tech firms is in stark contrast with other industries. According to a survey from Chinese recruitment site Zhaopin, only 27.6 per cent of white-collar professionals surveyed said they received a bonus in 2020. The average bonus for white-collar workers was 7,826 yuan last year, an 18 per cent decline from 2019, according to the survey.

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