Pony Ma is now China’s second-richest man as Tencent nears trillion-dollar club

Iris Deng
·2-min read

Pony Ma Huateng, the founder and CEO of Tencent Holdings, is now the second-wealthiest person in China as his company’s market value surged closer than ever to US$1 trillion this week.

A nearly 11 per cent jump in Tencent’s stock price on Monday added US$6.9 billion to Ma’s wealth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. With a net worth of around US$75 billion, Ma ranks only behind Zhong Shanshan, chairman of Chinese bottled water giant Nongfu Spring.

Ma is currently richer than Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Holding, and Colin Huang Zheng, founder of e-commerce firm Pinduoduo. Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.

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Following Monday’s record spike, Tencent’s share price slid 6.26 per cent on Tuesday to HK$718.50. Monday’s surge had pushed the company’s market value to nearly US$949 billion — just 5.5 per cent shy of the US$1 trillion threshold that would put it in the same league as US tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft and Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Ma founded Tencent in 1998 in a small office in Huaqiangbei, an electronics wholesale district in China’s southern tech hub of Shenzhen. Since releasing its first instant messenger OICQ (later renamed QQ), Tencent has grown into an online entertainment behemoth whose business spans games, music, video streaming, social media, mobile payments and more.

WeChat, the company’s flagship super app used for everything from social media to mobile payments, celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, counting more than 1 billion daily active users.

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Before Tencent’s recent rally, Pinduoduo’s Huang briefly leapfrogged Tencent’s Ma and Alibaba’s Ma to become China’s second-richest person in late December. At the time, Alibaba’s stock price took a beating after Chinese regulators began investigations into alleged monopolistic practices by the e-commerce giant.

However, Pinduoduo soon became embroiled in its own controversy. The death of an employee, who collapsed while walking home after work, led to an official investigation into working conditions at the company. Amid public outrage, state broadcaster CCTV terminated its advertising deal with the company for this year’s Spring Festival Gala, the country’s most-watched national network television broadcast.

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