Tencent Inc. has set up a $5 billion yuan (US $760 million) investment fund to invest in technology start-ups. The fund will focus on start-ups like gaming companies, social game, mobile game, e-commerce and new media firms.
The fund, as Tencent explained is to “provide support, break through bottlenecks in the development of innovative companies, make better products and faster services for the China’s millions of web users.
The initiative is also pretty much aligned with Tencent’s mission statement that reads, “to enhance people’s quality of life through Internet value added services”.
One thing for sure, the fund will fuel more innovations within the Chinese tech community. That is also what the Chinese government has hoped for. China’s ambitious patent development plan aims to have a whopping 2 million patent applications by 2015. In contrast, U.S currently has about 400,000 patent applications each year. If achieved, China would probably be the world’s leading innovator in terms of patent application count.
The fund is logical as the Chinese Internet giant firm wants to expand its portfolio of businesses. E-commerce, as I believe, is Tencent’s main focus. The biggest hint came when Tencent and Groupon formed a joint venture partnership to spearhead Groupon China into the Chinese market. Tencent understands that a huge proportion of money is made through e-commerce and certainly wants to have a share of the pie.
Alibaba Group currently dominates the lucrative online retail industry at all fronts (B2B and B2C). It will take Tencent something special to nick something out of it. I would say investing in new technologies is a risk well taken. After all, innovations usually come from the start-ups.