Tencent is Asia's most valuable public company — here's what you need to know about it

What is Tencent?
What is Tencent?

You can do almost anything now on a single mobile device. But in China, you can do almost anything on just one single app: Weixin — known as WeChat outside of China.

Tencent, the company behind the massively popular app, is China's biggest social network and gaming company. It's now one of the most valuable companies in the world.

The massive conglomerate recently joined Apple, Facebook, and Amazon on the list of massive tech companies that have passed the coveted $500 billion dollar market cap, making it Asia's first company to do this.

Tencent is an investment holding conglomerate with many, many subsidiaries. They include social networks, payment systems, media, entertainment, smartphones, e-commerce, property, advertising, artificial intelligence and more.

What is WeChat?

Think of WeChat like Facebook meets WhatsApp, meets Venmo and CandyCrush, Tinder, and Amazon. Still, there're even more functions including booking medical appointments and finding out how densely crowded a location is.

The number of people on WeChat is now closing in on a billion users.

WeChat's rise in popularity

In the early 2000s, Tencent anticipated the popularity of chat apps by seeing their use at China's internet cafes.

China is considered a mobile-first market, meaning its consumers joined the internet on a mobile device before a computer.

In 1999, in the United States, there were about 50 computers for every 100 people, according to the World Bank. In China, there was only about one computer for every 100 people.

Today, using an email address is not very common for Chinese consumers. The preferred way to communicate is chat apps for friends, family, colleagues, potential business partners and even strangers.

Global growth?

Tencent recently announced it will roll out its WeChat payment services in Malaysia after gaining an e-payment license outside of China.

Tencent is also planning to get its massively popular video game, "King of Glory," into the U.S.

But, Western companies have historically had a hard time infiltrating China and things aren't much easier for Chinese internet companies trying to expand globally.

Tencent's massive market capitalization puts it next to some of Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies, but whether it can continue to break records and gain traction outside of China remains to be seen.