Tencent has become the major force in China, and refusing an offer by the giant is impossible for any startup, says internet expert Andy Mok to Bloomberg. Pony Ma, the CEO of Tencent, is almost like Don Corleone, he says. And it is going international too.
WeChat now has 937.8 million active users, more than a third of whom spend in excess of four hours a day on the service. To put that in context, consider that the average person around the world spends a little more than an hour a day on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter combined. Tencent’s services are so pervasive in China that startups there find it difficult to refuse forging alliances with or accepting investment dollars from the company. “It’s a little bit like the Godfather Don Corleone saying, ‘I’m going to make you an offer you can’t refuse,’ ” says Andy Mok, founder and president of Beijing-based consultant Red Pagoda Resources LLC. “If you don’t take their money, and they invest in a competitor, it can be deadly.”
With WeChat’s rise, Tencent has tried to act like, or at least look like, a global technology leader. Later this year it will join Apple, Amazon.com, and Facebook in opening pricey new headquarters—a pair of conjoined glass skyscrapers designed by Seattle-based architecture firm NBBJ Design LLP. The towers, linked by three angular skybridges, resemble giant, slow-dancing robots.
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