Tencent started making money through advertising and monthly fees for premium QQ chat users. By 2001, the company had raised over $32 million in investments and, in 2004, it went public in Hong Kong. Then, in 2011, Tencent debuted its mobile-only messaging app WeChat as a separate entity from QQ. It has since been dubbed “the one app to rule them all.”
WeChat is often compared to Facebook because of its ubiquity in China, where Facebook is banned along with its messaging service WhatsApp. But WeChat’s “super app” model also goes even further than Facebook for its nearly 1 billion monthly active users, allowing them to text, call, play games, send money, shop, pay at restaurants, hail cab rides and even engage in online dating.
Tencent has branched out successfully into other arenas as well, such as cloud providers, artificial intelligence ventures and entertainment. Epic Games, a subsidiary of Tencent Games, produces the massively popular battle royale game “Fortnite.” Tencent is now spending $15 million to bring it to China, according to Variety. Even without that lucrative market, “Fortnite” has been a phenomenon: It reportedly made $126 million in February just through in-app purchases.