|Birth Day:||October 29, 1971|
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After graduating from Shenzhen University, he founded Tencent and developed Tencent QQ, a popular Chinese instant messenger program.
Ma was born in Chaoyang, Shantou, Guangdong. When his father, Ma Chenshu (马陈术), got a job as a port manager in Shenzhen, the young Ma accompanied him. He was enrolled in Shenzhen University in 1989 and then graduated in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in computer science.
Along with four other classmates, Ma Huateng went on to co-found Tencent in 1998. The company's first product came after Ma participated in a presentation for ICQ, the world's first Internet instant messaging service, founded in 1996 by an Israeli company. Inspired by the idea, Ma and his team launched in February 1999 a similar software, with a Chinese interface and a slightly different name – OICQ (or, Open ICQ). The product quickly became popular and garnered more than a million registered users by the end of 1999, making it one of the largest such services in China.
After AOL (America Online) bought ICQ in 1998, the company filed an arbitration against Tencent with the National Arbitration Forum in the United States, claiming that OICQ's domain names OICQ.com and OICQ.net were in violation of ICQ's trademark. Tencent lost the case and had to relinquish the domain names. In December 2000, Ma changed the name of the software to QQ (with "Q" and "QQ" used to stand for the word "cute").
Since Tencent's prized service OICQ was offered free of charge, the company looked to venture capitalists to finance its growing operational costs. In 2000, Ma turned to US investment firm IDC and Hong Kong's telecom carrier Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW) who bought 40 percent of Tencent's shares for US$2.2 million. With the pager market declining, Ma improved the messaging platform by allowing QQ users to send messages to mobile handsets. Afterwards, 80 percent of the company's revenue came from deals struck with telecom operators who agreed to share message fees.
After the AOL case, Ma decided to expand the business portfolio of Tencent. In 2003, Tencent released its own portal (QQ.com) and made forays into the online games market. By 2004, Tencent became the largest Chinese instant messaging service (holding 74 percent of the market), prompting Ma to list the company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. After the company raised $200 million in June's IPO, Ma quickly became one of the richest people in China's telecom industry.
In 2004, Tencent launched an online gaming platform and started selling virtual goods to support the games published on that platform (weapons, gaming power), as well as emoticons and ringtones.
At Ma's behest, Tencent launched in 2005 the C2C platform Paipai.com (拍拍网), a direct competitor to e-commerce giant Alibaba.
Talking about the founding of Tencent, he told China Daily in a 2009 interview that “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,” paraphrasing a quote attributed to Isaac Newton and referencing the similarities between ICQ and OICQ. "We knew our product had a future, but at that time we just couldn't afford it," Ma remembered. In order to solve the problem, Ma asked for bank loans and even talked about selling the company.
Mimicking Microsoft, Ma created two competing teams of engineers in 2010 and charged them with creating a new product. After two months, one team presented an app for text messaging and group chat – WeChat – which launched in January 2011. As of 2015, WeChat (微信, Weixin), is the largest instant messaging platform in the world, used by 48 percent of Internet users in the Asia-Pacific region.
In December 2015, Ma announced that Tencent would build an "internet hospital" set up in Wuzhen that will provide long-distance diagnoses and medicine delivery.
In 2016, Ma transferred US$2.3 billion worth of his personal Tencent shares to his charitable foundation, the Ma Huateng Global Foundation (马化腾环球基金会). However Forbes has not decreased his net worth as the shares are still listed under his name.
Currently, Ma Huateng is 51 years, 5 months and 2 days old. Ma Huateng will celebrate 52nd birthday on a Sunday 29th of October 2023.
Find out about Ma Huateng birthday activities in timeline view here.