CHINESE VIRTUAL GIANTS
Like many online sites, Chinese Internet company Tencent gave consumers the ability to purchase clothes, pets, guns, and food, but with one important caveat: All Tencent’s products were virtual goods existing only in the online world and purchased predominantly with the firm’s virtual currency – Q coins.
Against this make-believe backdrop, Tencent’s financial strength was hardly imaginary. In 2015 revenue neared $16 billion – similar to Facebook’s and more than three times as much as LinkedIn’s and Twitter’s combined. In April 2015 the firms’ market capitalization passed $200 billion, making it the fourth most valuable Internet firm in the world.
How do you create a $200 billion business starting from free instant messaging? How do you create a business that’s nearly as valuable as Facebook’s, while largely eschewing advertising revenues?