Tencent is notorious for developing me-too products and then killing the existing ones by taking advantage of its huge user base. It still does so sometimes but began making investments in or acquire other startups in and outside China a few years ago.
The company has invested $2 billion in overseas markets, a large part of which went to startups, disclosed Martin Lau, president of Tencent, at GMIC 2013 Sillicon Valley. Not only does Tencent inject money into those startups, the company would also pass on experience or help them enter China market, he said.
Online gaming has been the major contributor to its total revenues and now Tencent counts on mobile gaming in order to monetize the huge user base it has already had through WeChat, Mobile QQ and other mobile apps. So most of foreign businesses Tencent has stakes in are gaming-related.
In South Korea, where many of the most popular games on Tencent’s QQ platform are from, the company is working with Capstone Capital to make investments in Korean gaming companies.
Below is a list of overseas investments we have heard about so far.
- Mobile gameplay recording service Kamcord, based in the US, received two rounds of investments joined by Tencent in late 2012 and August 2013, respectively.
- Tencent purchased a 6% stake in Activision Blizzard, Inc., the developer of World of Warcraft, for an estimated $1.4 billion in mid-2013.
- The acquisition of a 49% stake with $26.95 million in Level Up, a Singaporean online game operator, was completed in August 2012.
- Tencent bought 48.4% of Epic Games, the developer of gaming engine Unreal Engine and some other online/mobile games, for $330 million in July 2012.
- The acquisition of game developer Riot Games, based in Los Angeles, US, was completed in early 2011. Before it Tencent was already an investor in Riot. League of Legends, developed by Riot and launched in 2009, is one of the most profitable games on Tencent platform.
- American game distributor Outspark raised $11 million round led by Tencent in early 2008.
- Tencent partners with South Korean VC Capstone Partners that has invested in 7 Korean gaming companies, Studio Hon, Reloaded Studios, Toppig, Nextplay, Redduck, Eyedentity and GH Hope Island, since 2008.
- Other deals including social platform for game players Raptr, RunWilder — a startup “creating franchise characters born on mobile” and co-founded by former employees, and ZAM, an online forum for gamers.
- Fab.com, an American online retailer for design products, announced a $150 million round of funding led by Tencent in June 2013.
- Tencent acquired 13.84% of Kakao Talk, South Korean mobile app developer, for RMB 403 million in early 2012.
- A bunch of Y Combinator alumni, Everyme, Ark, Sonalight, Loom and Watsi.
- Tencent joined the seed round of funding in Pair, a social app for couples, raised in 2012.
- In late 2011, Silicon Valley-based photo sharing app Waddle landed seed funding from Tencent.