Messenger Penguin's ten-year service in China

13:04, October 04, 2009      

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Many Chinese Internet users chat on-line with the help of a "penguin", or QQ, an instant Internet communication tool that put the bird as its image logo.

Ma Huateng, 38, made all this possible in ten years.

A lover of star watching, Ma described himself as a combination of idealist and realist.

"I'm introverted. My friends believed I was too shy to find a girl friend," Ma said. He found a girlfriend, now his wife, through chatting on-line with QQ.

Born in China's southern sea-surrounded Hainan Province, Ma loved watching stars and dreamed to be an astronomer.

He moved to Shenzhen in southern Guangdong Province when he was in middle school along with his parents. The booming city dragged Ma's dreams from the sky to the ground: the star-watcher began locking his eyes on the real world.

Ma was impressed by the slogan "Time is money, Efficiency is life" painted everywhere in the city. It was the most famous slogan born in Shenzhen, representing China's spirit of the reforms and opening-up.

The pioneering city provided chances for Ma to watch burgeoning reforms even in experiments. He saw people carry big bags of cash to buy stocks at the Shenzhen exchange market after China launched capital market in the late 1980s in Shenzhen and Shanghai.

When he graduated from Shenzhen University in 1993, Ma designed a software system on stocks exchange and sold it for 50,000 yuan (7,321 U.S. dollars).

He then worked as an IT engineer in a company for five years.

It was in 1998 that Ma realized Internet would be a new wave to transform China and the world and launched his own company, Shenzhen Tencent Inc..

A unit of Tencent, Tencent Holdings Limited, went public on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2004.

"China's reforms and opening up provided me a chance to grow the company," Ma said.

The country had only 3 million Internet users when the Penguin QQ showed up in 1999, but now China reported 300 million Internet users, Ma said.

Hu Qiheng, chairwoman of the Internet Society of China (ISC), said the reforms and opening-up not only improved people's living standards, but also gave them a chance to explore the outside world and a chance for Internet to boom in the country.

It was in the late 1990s that China's major Internet websites mushroomed, including Sina.com, Sohu.com, 163.com, Tencent.com and alibaba.com.

The booming was crashed by the Internet bubbles in 2000. "We were also under great pressure when the Internet bubbles came. Things got better only from 2005 on," Ma said.

IT sector was among the first batch industries that enjoyed zero-tariffs in China -- it means Chinese Internet sector has to face challenges from the international peers.

Penguin QQ reported about 450 million active registered users, providing services of chatting, music, games and QQ currency - an indispensable currency in China's virtual community.

"Chinese local websites survived in competing with foreign peers in the past ten years, but it will be the next ten years that can decide Chinese Internet enterprises' fate," Ma said.

Domestic enterprises have to compete with international companies on services, innovation and core technology , he said.

One of Ma's favorite films was March of the Penguins -- a French documentary directed by Luc Jacquet.

He said, "Penguin is a lovely animal to me. It is a combination of love, courage and risk-taking."

Source:Xinhua
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