Influence Empire: Inside the Story of Tencent and China’s Tech Ambition (Hardcover)
*SHORTLISTED FOR THE FINANCIAL TIMES BUSINESS BOOK 2022*
*A TIMES BUSINESS BOOK OF THE YEARS 2022*
*A FORBES ESPANA TOP TEN BOOK 2022*
*A PROJECT SYNDICATE 2022 BEST READ*
'A fascinating study of the tech giant and its symbiotic relationship with the Chinese government' - Guardian
'Vital . . . More than a corporate hagiography, Ms. Chen's book offers insight into the company via executive interviews and exclusive details.' New York Times
'Influence Empire by Lulu Yilun Chen is so much more than the long-awaited story of Tencent and its vital everything app, WeChat, the messaging tool used by 1.3 billion people. It's also the sobering account of an entire generation of high-flying Chinese tech entrepreneurs, whose wings were clipped by the omnipotent hand of their own government.' -- Brad Stone, author of Amazon Unbound and The Everything Store
ORDER NOW: the first definitive look at Tencent, one of the world's largest tech companies.
In 2017, a company known as Tencent overtook Facebook to become the world's fifth largest company. It was a watershed moment, a wake-up call for those in the West accustomed to regarding the global tech industry through the prism of Silicon Valley: Facebook, Google, Apple and Microsoft.
Yet to many of the two billion-plus people who live just across the Pacific Ocean, it came as no surprise at all.
Founded by the enigmatic billionaire Pony Ma, the firm that began life as a simple text-message operator invested in and created some of China's most iconic games en route to dreaming up WeChat - the Swiss Army knife super-app that combines messaging, shopping and entertainment. Through billions of dollars of global investments in marquee names from Fortnite to Tesla and a horde of start-ups, Ma's company went on to build a near-unparalleled empire of influence.
In this fascinating narrative - crammed with insider interviews and exclusive details - Lulu Chen tells the story of how Tencent created the golden era of Chinese technology, and delves into key battles involving Didi, Meituan and Alibaba. It's a chronicle of critical junctures and asks just what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur in China.
'There's so much fascinating detail here.' -- The Times
'Lulu Yilun Chen has written a sharply informed, smart and compelling account of the rise of some of the most powerful companies in China, which also stand among the biggest and richest tech giants in the world. Despite their enormous size and power, few outside of China know of or understand these companies. Now, thanks to Influence Empire: Inside the Story of Tencent and China's Tech Ambition, that will finally change.' -- Howard French, former NY Times Shanghai bureau chief and author of Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power
'A book that tells Tencent's story has been long overdue, and Lulu Chen's account is not only comprehensive, but also a gripping business narrative. The globally influential company finally has the account it deserves.' -- David Barboza, The Wire
Lulu Yilun Chen has written a sharply informed, smart and compelling account of the rise of some of the most powerful companies in China, which also stand among the biggest and richest tech giants in the world. Foremost among them is the biggest behemoth of them all, Tencent, a Swiss Army Knife of a company that combines the services of a half dozen or more of the best-known internet giants in the West. The immense wealth and reach deep into every household in China of companies like these has recently placed them at the center of Beijing's regulatory and political attention. Despite their enormous size and power, few outside of China know of or understand these companies. Now, thanks to Influence Empire: The Story of Tencent and China's Tech Ambition, that will finally change. - - Howard French, former NY Times Shanghai bureau chief and author of Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power
Lulu Yilun Chen's Influence Empire is the compelling story of one of the world's most important, but least understood companies. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the curious collision of business, technology and politics in today's China will reshape our world. - - Peter Martin, author of China's Civilian Army
In Influence Empire, the long-time tech reporter narrates the emergence of China's tech titans their often-haphazard rises to success, and the struggles between then for revenue and domination of the marketplace... The book asks whether without freedom of thought China's economic miracle can persist. -- The Post
'Vital . . . More than a corporate hagiography, Ms. Chen's book offers insight into the company via executive interviews and exclusive details.' -- New York Times
'The company, China's largest internet giant, now has a massive portfolio of internet firms across a wide range of sectors, including social media, e-commerce, ride-hailing, gaming, and tutoring. But the future of Chinese Big Tech is very much in question, making the many fascinating stories in Chen's book essential reading for China watchers.' -- Project Syndicate
'A fascinating study of the tech giant and its symbiotic relationship with the Chinese government ... With Influence Empire, Chen, a reporter for Bloomberg, seeks to tell the story of arguably China's greatest entrepreneurial success, expose the threads that link Xi Jinping's regime to your Snapchat account, and familiarise us with the company's reclusive, 50-year-old founder Ma Huateng, who goes by the incongruous English moniker "Pony"... The book's most interesting material explores the waxing and waning of the relationship between Tencent and the Chinese communist party, which is eager to, as Chen puts it, "keep the rising class of tech-savvy moguls in place before their economic aspirations turn political."' -- Guardian
A book that tells Tencent's story has been long overdue, and Lulu Chen's account is not only comprehensive, but also a gripping business narrative. The globally influential company finally has the account it deserves. -- David Barboza, The Wire
There's so much fascinating detail here: the company may serve as a 'towering paean to futurism and commerce' but it still has the Communist Party woven into its fabric, extolling its past glories in the company gym. -- The Times
'It's a fascinating story of entrepreneurship, of what it's like to build a company in a Communist state. Chen clearly charts the rise of one of the largest tech and social media companies in the world, which is shadowed by one of the most paranoid governments in the world. In one corner of the ring you have the values of the Communist Party, in the other you have the value proposition of Tencent. Chen goes beyond that, we get the stories behind the headline, the characters, the culture and the back stories.' -- Mimi Alemayehou, Senior Vice President for Public-Private Partnerships, Strategic Growth, Mastercard
'Coming to grips with the tech industry is not easy at the best of times given how quickly the sector evolves. It is even more difficult when it is in China and the relationship (between tech companies) and the government is extremely fluid, yet Influence Empire by Lulu Chen manages to provide important insights across all these dimensions. The book is an engaging look into the Chinese tech world, including the relationship with not just the government there, but also with western capital. It comes at a time, to quote the author 'alliances and allegiances change within the blink of an eye" and "national champions become public enemies overnight." This book will be of interest to a very broad range of people, and rightly so, from tech specialists, economists and corporate executives worrying about disruption of supply chains to those interested in innovation, as well as those assessing the increasing weaponization of tech for national security purposes.' -- Mohamed El-Erian, President, Queens' College, Cambridge University, Advisor to Allianz and Gramercy