China's virtual landscape

Forget Facebook and Twitter and take a look at five companies shaping China's Internet culture.

Tencent

us china internet tencent wechat
Tencent's WeChat is a mobile messaging app similar to WhatsApp.

Tencent (TCEHY) is a giant: its shares have soared 10,500% since 2004, and the company now boasts a $103 billion market cap. The company does everything from online games to search, software development, mobile gaming, e-commerce and instant messaging.

It all started with QQ, a desktop messaging service, which counts 816 million monthly active users. Tencent then moved into mobile messaging with WeChat. The app now has 272 million monthly active users.

Tencent is taking advantage of the WeChat network to distribute games, apps, advertising and even a mobile wallet. To broaden its global appeal, Tencent hired soccer player Lionel Messi for international WeChat ads. More growth isn't far away: Tencent inked an exclusive deal with Activision (ATVI) to launch a version of Call of Duty in China.

Founded in Shenzhen by China's fifth-richest man, "Pony" Ma Huateng, the company has invested in Xiaomi, China's answer to Apple (AAPL) -- a nimble, innovative technology company that produces smartphones.

- Last updated November 26 2013 03:52 AM ET
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