Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

Tencent: Learning from China’s Goliath!

The Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive of China’s titan tech firm Tencent is very vocal about what has enabled the company to make the list of the ten most valuable public firms in the world.

Tencent is China’s collective answer to Facebook, PayPal, WhatsApp, Spotify, and Amazon. The Founder has built this digital platform from scratch over the past two decades and it currently has over 900 million users.  Its business is roughly split into three components.  First is the ubiquitous messaging app WeChat, the dominant online instant messaging tool in China and mobile payment tool for a broad range of transactions from taxi hailing to grocery shopping.   Second, Tencent is the biggest mobile gaming franchise in the world, surpassing the gaming revenues of Microsoft and Sony.  Tencent’s third source of revenue is a mind-bending number of apps, such as its own version of Uber called DiDi Dache.

In a recent speaking engagement in London, the Founder outlined what he believes are the seven key principles that have enabled Tencent to become an internet giant:

1.) Agility – An important feature of Tencent’s success has been its ability to develop hot new products.  As the company has matured, the Founder tends to rely less and less on personnel who have been around for years and instead searching for much younger personnel who he believes understand the needs of younger users much better.

2.) Openness– Unshackled by rules, Tencent employees have freedom to act – to invent, to problem solve, and to wow.  The Founder encourages all employees to experiment bravely without hesitation.

3.) User First– The Founder has a famous 10/100/1000 rule. Specifically, each month product managers need to run at least ten end user surveys, read 100 user blogs, and collect user experience feedback from at least 1,000 people.  His belief is that any service starts with the needs of its users in mind.

4.) Speed – No product starts perfect.  It takes rapid iteration and even then, according to the Founder, perfection is never reached.  In launching WeChat, Tencent regularly released one or two versions per week, each designed to gain one more advantage versus the competitor.

5.) Resilience– The Founder’s tolerance for failure is strategic.  The Founder expects people to bounce back from losses and pick themselves up and start over.

6.) Evolution– Evolution at Tencent means the capability to constantly improve, evolve and take risks.  Plenty of seemingly bulletproof businesses, such as Dell, HP, Kodak, and Blockbuster – have lost their edge by failing to adapt.

7.) Innovation– Tencent believes innovation is the result of practicing the other six principles – agility, openness, user-first, speed, and resilience, and evolution.  The Founder claims: “Innovation is a result, not the cause, but it is easier said than done when a firm is as big as Tencent.”

There is no rocket science here.  The secret is continuing to operate under those principles while the company has grown to a mammoth size.

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