Ma Huateng, also known as Pony Ma, is a Chinese business magnate who sits on the throne of Tencent, one of the largest internet and technology companies in the world and one of the most profitable businesses in East Asia. As the co-founder and current chief executive officer of the business, Huateng is now one of the most powerful people worldwide. In 2024, Ma Huateng’s net worth is estimated at over $35 billion.

Over the years, Huateng has strengthened his position as a highly successful businessman, dabbling in different industries and holding a variety of assets, all of which we’ll cover below.

Ma Huateng’s Net Worth Breakdown:

At one point in 2018, Ma Huateng’s net worth made him the richest man in China. He even briefly surpassed Google’s  founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, in 2017, though their net worth is significantly higher these days as Google has continued its reign of dominance.

Today, he is one of the richest people in all of Asia, behind only titans of industry including Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani. However, he seldom makes public appearances and is known to lead a very private life, so pinpointing every source of his net worth or investment income is impossible. Even so, we found enough information on his stake in the company, investments, and earnings over the years to build a holistic estimate of his net worth.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
China Motion Telecoms Development salary, 1993 $176
Tencent CEO salary $5.595 million
Tencent Holdings 9.7% stake $25+ billion
Ma Huateng Global Foundation shares donation -$2.3 billion
Sale of shares to IDC $2.2 billion
Art collection $150 million
Real estate $400 million
Total Net Worth $35 billion

Ma Huateng Net Worth: Early Life and Humble Beginnings

Ma Huateng was born on October 29, 1971, in Chaoyang, Guangdong province in China. His father, Ma Chenshu, worked as a port manager in Shenzhen, so the family moved when Ma was very young.

Huateng attended Shenzhen University, where he obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Applied Engineering in 1993.

For many years now, Ma Huateng has gone by the nickname Pony, which is derived from the English translation of his family name, which means “horse”.

Ma Huateng Net Worth: Ascending to China’s Tech Throne

Following his graduation from Shenzhen University, Ma Huateng immediately jumped into the job market. Not long after, he co-founded his billion-dollar company and made himself one of the richest people worldwide. Let’s see how his story went.

Early Career

When he graduated, Huateng took a job with China Motion Telecom Development, a company that employed him to create software for pagers. At this point, he reportedly earned a $179 monthly salary.

Not long after, he left this company and went on to work for Shenzhen Runxun Communications Co. Ltd., where he did research and development.

Five years after his university graduation, Ma Huateng joined forces with four of his classmates from Shenzhen University and founded Tencent, a business that would soon become a world-leading internet and technology company.

ma huateng presentation
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The Founding of Tencent Holdings

In 1998, Tencent Holdings was begun. A year later, the newly founded company launched Open ICQ or OICQ, inspired by Ma’s part in a presentation for ICQ, the internet instant messaging service. Inspired by the idea, the team launched similar software in February, a Chinese instant messaging service.

This was the company’s first highly successful product, allowing it to expand to become the largest instant messaging service network in all of China.

Eventually, when the business expanded, Ma Huateng was named its chief executive officer, chairman of the board, and executive board member.

Tencent Holdings expanded at a whirlwind pace thanks to its popular instant messaging service, as well as the introduction of mobile gaming and the development of trending smash-hit multi-player games like League of Legends (formerly the most popular game globally). The company’s product portfolio now includes social networks, e-commerce, and web portals.

Here is Ma talking in 2012 about what the business looked like then and how he viewed Tencent against American tech companies.

The Success of Tencent

In 1998, America Online (AOL) purchased ICQ and filed an arbitration against Tencent Holdings with the National Arbitration Forum in the US, claiming that the domains OICQ.net and OICQ.com violate ICQ’s trademark. Tencent lost the case and had to relinquish its domain names, so Ma Huateng decided to change the software’s name to Tencent QQ in 2000. By 2003, Tencent had its portal QQ.com.

tencent qq logo
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It wasn’t smooth sailing from there either, even after building their product.  In 2009, Huateng told China Daily that their product “had a future”, but they had limited funds for it in the beginning.

We knew our product had a future, but at that time we just couldn’t afford it.

To resolve this issue and get funding, Huateng applied for bank loans and looked for venture capitalists who would finance Tencent’s operational costs.

After many attempts and even some consideration around selling the business, Ma Huateng turned to the investment firm IDC and Pacific Century Cyber Works, Hong Kong’s telecom carrier, and asked for funding. This is how the business gathered $2.2 million and sold 40% of Tencent’s shares.

Among other things, Pony Ma improved the messaging platform by allowing its users to send messages to mobile handsets. After this move, 80% of the company’s revenue came from deals it made with telecom operators who agreed to share messaging fees.

By 2001, Tencent had raised $32 million in investment. It made money by charging monthly fees for premium QQ chat users as well as through advertising. In 2004, the founders took the business public in Hong Kong. Tencent was already the largest Chinese instant messaging service by this point, holding 74% of the market.

In June’s IPO, the company raised $200 million, making Ma Huateng one of the richest people in China’s telecom industry.

As years went by, Tencent’s influence on the Chinese market was astonishing. Under Huateng’s leadership, the company expanded its offerings to include all kinds of internet-related services, which it referred to as “online lifestyle services”. The business soon expanded to offer not just instant messaging but also online media outlets, gaming and interactive entertainment, and online advertising – and even became an online payment service provider at one point.

In 2004, Tencent added an online gaming platform to its portfolio of products. It also started selling virtual accessories for the games. A year later, they launched Paipai.com, a C2C platform similar to eBay.

paipai homepage
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One of the most popular products of the company was launched in 2011. WeChat, the text messaging and group chat application, soon became the world’s largest internet messaging platform. It debuted as a separate entity from QQ.

Known as Tencent’s flagship product, WeChat boasts a huge user base of 1.3 billion these days, including 50 million users outside China, and includes a wide range of services including social networking, mobile payments, mobile gaming, and, of course, messaging. WeChat helped pioneer the “super app” by combining the features of dozens of apps rolled into one.

WeChat Pay, the online payment service provider, is integrated into the WeChat app and allows users to pay within the app using QR codes in stores or making online purchases.

Tencent also operated Qzone, a social networking site that counted over 670 million monthly active users in 2015, which made it the third-largest social network in the world at the time. Other profitable products were games like “Legend of Xuanyuan” and “Legend of Yulong”, which came with a $1.5 billion profit margin.

Fast forward to 2015, and Ma Huateng announced that the company was going to build an internet hospital with headquarters in Wuzhen that would provide medicine delivery and long-distance diagnoses.

tencent medicine delivery
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Tencent Holdings is now a major player in the gaming industry with titles such as League of Legends and Valorant. It also holds a roughly 40% stake in the US videogame company Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite. It has also invested in Tesla (5% stake) and Snap (10% stake) and reportedly had a 10% stock swap made with Spotify.

In 2018, the company was the first Asian technology firm to be valued at over $500 billion.

Huateng’s Earnings from Tencent

While we don’t know how his salary fluctuated over the years, it is suggested that Ma Huateng earns $5,595,000 in compensation for serving as the chief executive officer of Tencent and the executive chairman of the company’s board.

His personal Tencent shares were 8.4% of the business in 2022 and are reportedly set at 9.7% today, which is the biggest contribution toward his net worth.

Involvement in Politics

Pony Ma is actively involved in politics in his home country. He is deputy to the fifth Shenzhen Municipal People’s Congress and was also a member of the 12th National People’s Congress.

ma huateng politics
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Philanthropic Endeavors and Charitable Foundation

The computer science expert and chief executive officer of Tencent is not only known for his business acumen but also for his charitable actions. In 2016, Pony Ma transferred $2.3 billion worth of his personal shares at Tencent to his charitable foundation, the Ma Huateng Global Foundation.

The charitable foundation focuses on empowering environmental initiatives, healthcare, education, and more.

Awards, Honorable Mentions, and Other Achievements

Ma Huateng won the Shenzhen City Technological Innovation Award in 2007, an impressive feat as Shenzhen is one of the world’s greatest tech hubs.

He has also received the following awards and accolades:

  • 2007, 2014, and 2018: named one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine
  • 2015: named as one of the world’s most powerful people by Forbes
  • 2017: ranked among the top businessmen of the year by Fortune
  • 2018: named as one of the most powerful people in the world by CEOWorld magazine
  • 2018: won “Pioneer of Reform” award by China Awards
  • 2021: won Asia’s Most Influential Hong Kong award
  • 2023: listed as the 33rd wealthiest person in the world by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Other Investments and Assets of Huateng

As we noted, Huateng is a very private person. This means that, except for his business portfolio and investments through Tencent Holdings, we know very little about how he spends his fortune.

Huateng’s assets extend beyond his highly valued stake at the internet calling services brand Tencent. He reportedly has $150 million invested in his personal art collection and has quite a large real estate portfolio.

Real Estate

Huateng owns several luxurious properties around the world. His Hong Kong property is valued at around $150 million and spreads across 19,600 square feet. He bought this property in 2015.

In 2014, Huateng spent $57 million on a two-story house on South Bay Road in Repulse Bay, Hong Kong, from Ho Sai-Chu. He also owns an 8,000-square-foot seaside luxury villa in the southeast of Hong Kong worth around $228 million.

What Can We Learn from Ma Huateng’s Story?

Ma Huateng, the chief executive officer of one of the largest social media and investment corporations in the world, has much to teach us all. As the CEO of the tech and ecommerce giant, he has achieved a lot over the years and made a massive impact on the industry. The success of the business is undoubtedly linked to Huateng’s leadership since the business has only thrived with him at the helm.

As an entrepreneur and leader of the company, his careful, strategic decisions have played a key role in shaping the business into one of the largest conglomerates in the world. Even though he is careful in his decision-making, he doesn’t shy away from innovation, and his gambles on tech like WeChat Pay have more than paid off. He teaches us of the power of diversification, too, having widened the reach of the business to include a variety of services, ranging from mobile gaming to social media to online advertising.

Finally, Huateng’s influence extends beyond his successes in the professional field. He is also actively involved in philanthropy and has established his own charitable foundation to help causes he finds worthy, including education, environmental sustainability, and healthcare. Through his very generous donations, Huateng demonstrates a commitment to creating a positive impact on society and shows us that we can all make a positive change in the world.