Tencent’s investment in Practo marks the Chinese internet giant’s first investment in India, which is becoming one of the largest opportunities in the internet space globally for investors. And Tencent, which is valued over $170 billion, has been actively scouting for investments here in 2015.The company behind popular messaging app WeChat has been known as a fairly aggressive investor in startups both in China and overseas. In India, a team from Tencent met with a number of startups earlier this year and also closely evaluated a potential investment in etailing major Snapdeal, according to a source familiar with the matter. The Chinese internet firm is also fairly bullish on the payments space in India. “Tencent is fairly keen on the payments space and has met quite a few startups in that space. Alibaba’s investment in a large player like Paytm took them by surprise and they want to be an active player here,“ said a venture capital investor.An entrepreneur in the payments space who has met the company said that Tencent is open to investing anywhere from $10-15 mil lion to up to half a billion dollars, given the size of its balance sheet.Tencent’s entry in the Indian market comes as several other strategics like Japan’s SoftBank and China’s Alibaba and Foxconn have been making aggressive moves in a country which is projected by Goldman Sachs to have more than one billion digital users in the next 15 years.
Tencent is one of the triumvirate along with Alibaba Holdings and Baidu, referred to as BAT, which dominates the Chinese internet market.The company has been primarily focused on social networking and online gaming, which accounts for over half of its $13-billion revenue. The company was founded in 1998 by Ma Huateng, popularly known as Pony Ma, with products like instant messenger Tencent QQ . It also runs one of the largest web portals in China, QQ.com.
Tencent representatives did not reply to emailed questions. But the company’s bullishness is evident in the official statement it made after Practo deal. “We are very excited to partner with Practo as one of our first few investments in India. We look for ambitious, visionary Internet companies that are improving people’s lives at a global scale,“ said Hongwei Chen, senior director of investment and M&A at Tencent.