ReCreating Tencent, the Penguin’s Long March

June 15, 2011. Beijing, China National Convention Center. Hundreds of people flocked into a crowded meeting room, where Tencent was about to hold a “Tencent Partnership Conference”, a move marking the Chinese Internet giant which has been long criticized for its sluggish in opening up finally made up its mind to be more open to the outside world across the board and to help walk all its partners closer to success. To quote Pony Ma himself, founder and CEO of Tencent, “the more successful our partners are, the more successful our open platform will be.”

During the conference, Mr. Ma put forward 8 choices of Tencent’s open strategy, to put it short, the Shenzhen-based company will “try to come up with solutions rather than back off in exploring the open cause”, “across the board open”, “zero tolerance when user benefits are under threat”, “making gaming rules together with partners”, “revenue will go towards partners first”, “innovation always comes first” and so forth.

Meanwhile, Ma announced to double its “Tencent Collaboration Fund” to RMB 10 billion (US$ 1.5 billion). Tencent generates RMB 20 billion (US$ 3 billion) in revenue in a year, Ma said, and the company was hoping to recreate a new Tencent by helping its partners earning exact the same sum.

As of now Tencent has opened up its Tenpay (Paypal like service), Paipai (similar to Taobao), Soso (search business), social networking services like Tencent Pengyou and QQ Zone, Tencent weibo, QQ Login, QQ Game Center, QQ Mail list and so on, and more products and services are expected to show up in the list.

After being the target of critics for lack of openness as well as cornering some partners at times to the verge of death, Tencent now wanted to shake things up and play it for real: to open up.

And the company that uses penguin as its mascot is not the only one decided to do so in the past year.

Baidu, Taobao, Shanda, Amazon, Dangdang and Joyo(Amazon China), Kaixin001, NetEase, 51, Sohu, Youku, Douban, Renren and so on all launched their open platforms.

Pushing towards Mobile Front

Following Tencent’s partnership meeting, Baidu made available its mobile box computing platform in the end of June and also released a new homepage in its annual Baidu World conference in early September as the company spotted new opportunities in mobile search and tapped into the growth potential in opening up its homepage to web apps produced by 3rd party developers.

Derived from the search giant’s box computing concept/technology, mobile box computing as well as box computing concept are largely based upon Baidu Open Platform that consists of Baidu Apps Open Platform and Baidu Data Open Platform and hosts thousands of apps by 3rd party vendors. It’s Baidu’s solution to open platform strategy.

Out of all these opening-up companies, some provide their partners with data through API, while the others offer services. Joyo and Dangdang are among those who deliver services through their platforms.

Ecommerce Could be Open as Well

Joyo, the Chinese subsidiary of Amazon debut its ecommerce platform in mid-July that allows anyone qualified to operate an independent online shop on its website leveraging Amazon China’s traffic, branding and so on with no deposit/platform/annual fee. Better yet, Amazon China is also sharing its warehousing and logistic service with partners, for a fee of course.

Dangdang and 360buy, two of the largest B2C online general stores launched similar initiatives as well.

Offering a virtual online stall is one thing, opening widely one’s own warehouses and logistics services, is another thing – you may want call it true and whole-hearted openness.

Last year to many people is the first year in China Internet’s openness as more and more companies were shoving themselves into the open wave and pushed it further, for this year, we’re on track to see many disruptive innovations and new mashup services based upon all these open platforms and APIs.

Mainstream Open Platforms in China

Sina Weibo














Ben Jiang

Listener of startups, writer on tech. Maker of things, dreamer by choice.

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