3 Major Chinese E-commerce Names to Know (Part III) …TENCENT


“The right place at the right time with the right connections can make you notoriously B.I.G. in China”

You think Facebook is big? Not very creative but very profitable, TENCENT has proven good use of …good luck.

Founded by Ma Huateng (Forbes’ #223 Billionaire) and Zhang Zhidong (Forbes’ #719 Billionaire) 1998 as Tencent Inc.
“Tencent” is derived from the Chinese phrase “十分”. It is a measurement that can be used to represent one cent (one 分 (fēn) is a one-hundredth subdivision of one yuan.) However, the Chinese name for the company is not “十分” (Pinyin: shí fēn). Instead, it is a loose transliteration of “Tencent”: 腾讯 (Pinyin: téng xùn). In Chinese it means, roughly, “galloping message”.
Its headquarters are located in the Tencent Building (腾讯大厦 Téngxùn Dàshà) in the Southern District of Hi-tech Park (新科技园 Xīn Kējì Yuán) in Nanshan District, with sublets in other cities.

Also known by its official name QQ, TENCENT offers a huge range of services for B2C and B2B.

Super brief story of QQ’s name: It was inspired from the ancient Israeli found company; ICQ. In 1997, Ma Huateng was inspired to create OICQ from ICQ as an ICQ user. Then, obviously, OICQ was sued by ICQ for the domain name issue.

After a bunch of copyright infringements and other mumbo jumbo, in 2000, ICQ officially sued OICQ. So to avoid risk, OICQ was then renamed to QQ. The end.

Tencent services are, and do (in very few words):
Online Media
qq.com QQ.com is China’s largest web. Integrates a huge range of services and entertainment. It reported 711.7 million active user accounts for QQ IM (11/9/30). In February 2011, QQ.com ranked 10th overall in the Alexa Internet rankings just behind Twitter (Feb2011)
Tencent Weibo The competitor of Sina Weibo, it’s one of the biggest Chinese microblogging services. (Find me there) Users may broadcast a message including 140 Chinese characters at most through the web, SMS or smartphone. It’s fun to use but BEWARE OF ZOMBIES!

QQ International In 2009, QQ began to expand its services internationally, and it has been working with partners throughout Asia and the USA through its IMQQ portal.

SOSO (Search Engine) “搜搜”, or “search search” in Chinese. It was a Chinese partner of Google, using AdWords. Currently, Soso.com provides more than 16 search products and services, including search for websites, images, music, blogs, news and video. As well as semantic search through their engines: Wenwen and Baike (Tencent’s Baike).   

Instant Messaging Services

QQ Enterprise An instant messaging service for business, aiming to connect them with QQ’s user database. TM Tencent Messenger (TM), an IM platform for voice and video communication and remote assistance. It is designed for business with security measures to optimize functions, shielding advertisements and spam. Also powered up to transmit files at high speed. 

Tencent Traveler “TT”, It’s a web browser developed by Tencent, based on the Trident and is the third most-used browser in China. It works as a multi-page web-page browser. With user-friendly features and functions.  

QQ Doctor is a free security software assistant tool.

QQMail Users receive popup reminders when new email arrives. It also offers various features, including blog reader, 1G-sized attachments as well as audio and video messages (do we need that?) 
Foxmail In addition to basic mail management functions, it has added features for full text search, mail archives, IMAP4 protocol support and To-Do Lists.
QQ Player A media player, available for free downloads. I heard that is one of the best streaming media player applications for Android. It allows multiple audio tracks switching. Supports AVI, FLV, MP4, 3GP, MKV, MOV, etc. In addition, QQ Player and SRT, SMI plug-in subtitling together with MKV embedded subtitles. it is also available in English. (I should give it a try.) 
QQ Pinyin is an Pinyin input-method software. Made for customisation of use in any writing circumstance including Games.  

QQDownload Download software manager for installation, upgrade and uninstall of products from Tencent.


Internet Value-added Services

Qzone One of the largest social networking services in China. With 480 million users (March 2011) Now it claims to have over 523 million active users, making it one of the biggest social media platforms in the world.    
It allows member users to write blogs or diaries (micro-blogs), share photos, and listen to music. Users can set their Qzone background and select accessories based on their preferences. Like My_space, the member’s profile page can be customized. However, most Qzone services are not free. QQ requires users to upgrade by buying a “Diamond” It will then display a Diamond icon on the profile and allow users to access every service without paying extra. The Mobile version is also a paid service.    (Find me there)

QQMembership  (VIP membership) Allow users a superior status both online and offline and enjoy a privileged experience. 

QQShow (Avatar-based social platform like Ameba or Gree) users can choose from the QQShow Mall virtual clothing, hairstyles, scenes and accessories of all themes to dress up the virtual images and use them for their avatar on any QQ service.  
QQMusic (together with Mobile QQMusic ) provider of copyrighted digital music services. Is the largest online music platform in China. 
QQLive A peer-to-peer distribution platform for streaming media. is like a huge Menu of social media platforms, Chat services,  Stream Video, email services  and dozens of other services in China.  
Pengyou A community tailored for university students. Includes games like  QQ farm, QQ restaurant. It also provides internship, part-time job and recruitment news and information.  
City Elite It’s a local SNS online community. Provides all services as any online community but communicates through SNS messages. Includes information for offline local activities. 

Wireless Internet Value-Added Services

3G.QQ.COM Tencent’s mobile phone portal website. 
Mobile QQ mobile IM software. It includes functions as voice video, photo-taking and file transmission. 
Super QQ VIP service for mobile phone users. Provides users with functions and privileges like Chat, Entertainment and Lifestyle.
Mobile Game Mobile Game products: FlyingSB、Xianlv、Samsara、Fantasy i Era.  QQ Games: including Dou Di Zhu、Mahjong and others. games that can be accessed both by cellular and PC. 
Mobile QQMusic The largest wireless music sales platform in China. Incloudes free trial for MP3 downloads, ringtones and Color Ring Back Tones. Music information. Music SNS communities and Artist fans clubs. 


PaiPai.com Internet auctions. It includes all major channels, including women, men, online games, digital products, mobile phone, life, sports, students, special offers, mums and babies, toys, value replenishment, superior quality products and hotels.  It also provides feature products and services, including proxy overseas purchases, personalized customization, brand zone, red packets and gift zones.
An online payment system similar to PayPal and its Chinese rival Alipay, supports B2B, B2C and C2C payments. Individuals can TenPay for utility payments (in some Chinese cities) and to refill their public transport cards.  Co-branded credit cards are available, The same service can also allow other payments like card bills and others.  It is possible to recharge the TenPay account offline re-charging of your  is possible, as the company sends employees to collect customer money in person. (I’m not sure if I’ll like someone to be coming to my house to collect bills, specially if in China but…)

Interactive Entertainment Services

Online Games

Journey to the Fairyland
MMOG “Journey to the Fairyland”, DNF “Dungeon & Fighter”, QQ HUAXIA, Hero Island, Dragon Power, QQ Xian Xia Zhuan, World of Fantasy, Cross Fire, AVA, QQ San Guo, QQ Free Fantasy, World of West, QQ Feng Shen Ji, QQ Dancer, QQ Speed, QQ Tang, R2Beat, Punch Monster, QQ Game, QQ PE T and Silkroad Hero.

Online Advertising

TENCENT MIND  Tencent provides a wide range of services which covers instant messaging, information portal, online games and e-business, etc. In 2009, Tencent revenue reached US$151 million

ROI Tools:


Epic Games -Tencent is a minority investor.
Riot Games -Tencent bought them for $400 million in 2011.


QQ has a long history of criticisms and controversies. For the way the company works, it might seem that they are just good for copying and re-copying other’s ideas and technology.

Personal Comments:

ICQ, Skype or MSN anyone? or just QQ with lemon?

With 700 Million IM Users, Tencent’s Q1 profited nearly $1 Billion in revenues (2011) leaving MSN and Skype spinning.

Think Facebook? Not very creatively original but fast in action, Tencent has taken a different approach in profiting from their social platforms.

According to (Inside Facebook*) ,  Facebook generated under 2% of revenues from virtual goods (Internet services) while Tencent now profits  over 75% of total revenues from such “internet value-added services,” which grew 94% in 2009.
Around 10% of Tencent’s active users pay for memberships, which cost around $1.50 per month. That makes Tencent the world leader in micropayments.
As 2011, Facebook had a total revenue of $3.8 billion and $1.5 billion profit for 2011 whilst Tencent claimed revenues of $4 billion and $1.4 billion profit for the same year making them China’s largest internet service company.

The primary source of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertisements; only 11% comes from the sale of virtual goods. Tencent’ s revenue mainly comes from internet value-added services, and the advertising counts for less than $300 million.

I have used QQ, and I think it’s ‘OK’. Easy to use and the sound quality seemed better than Skype sometimes. Language options include English, Spanish, Japanese and Korean (besides Chinese of course)
There’s bunches and bunches of communities and hundreds of tons of groups, conversations etc. (Too much a busy person. No wonder why their student platform Pengyou  was so successful)

QQ International (QQ VOIP) was hard to install because it keeps redirecting to many sites around the world. I wonder why it doesn’t download directly from their server.  If you want to give it a try, click here.

The application for Android runs fine and seems smooth to use. As most platforms, it can invite your friends and search for contacts.
It has a wide range of applications from different companies and platforms, I even found the Japanese くるなび.

Despite the formal BAD DESIGN TASTE of QQ, the new applications and products have a better overall design and are easy to understand.

As I mentioned before, QQ service is free but has limitations. It then can be updated  to a “diamond membership” allowing the member to access more privileges.
There are many different colored Diamonds that can be used for different purposes.

* Inside Facebook is the leading source of news and analysis on Facebook’s global growth, corporate developments, and product innovations. Inside Facebook provides daily news and analysis for developers, marketers, and investors.

Check my previous posts:

3 Major Chinese E-commerce Names to Know …and fear? Alibaba

3 Major Chinese E-commerce Names to Know (Part II) BAIDU


Memes have a great potential due to the “simple sophistication” to express messages and thoughts in few or no words.
This is a fantastic post that demonstrates the power of word of mouth in China and the possible impact that we’ll see in their political future.