Finance Jack Ma was briefly dethroned as China's richest person — meet the man who replaced him

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The Tencent founder and CEO started the company in the 1990s when he was 26.

Ma Huateng, aka Pony Ma, overtook Jack Ma on Monday August 7. play

Ma Huateng, aka Pony Ma, overtook Jack Ma on Monday August 7.

(Forbes)
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China briefly had a new face at the top of its rich list on Monday.

Ma Huateng, also known as Pony, surpassed Alibaba's Jack Ma to become the country's richest man, according to Forbes' billionaires' list.

Pony Ma is the founder and CEO of internet company Tencent, which operates the super-popular WeChat app.

He became the 18th richest person in the world after his company's stock price jumped 3%, leaving Jack Ma in 20th place.

But Jack Ma swiftly reversed the switch on Monday afternoon after Alibaba's shares rallied nearly 3%. He is now back in 18th place in the list, which is updated in real-time. Pony Ma is in 19th.

Take a look at the slides below to learn more about Ma and Tencent.

This is 45-year-old Ma Huateng. He's the founder and CEO of Tencent, China's largest internet portal.

This is 45-year-old Ma Huateng. He's the founder and CEO of Tencent, China's largest internet portal. play

This is 45-year-old Ma Huateng. He's the founder and CEO of Tencent, China's largest internet portal.

(Lintao Zhang/Getty)

Tencent is the company behind WeChat, a multi-purpose app which is like a mixture of WhatsApp, Google News, Uber, and Deliveroo. It has around a billion users.

Ma is currently the company's largest individual stakeholder, with a 8.71% interest in the company, Quartz reported.



Ma's nickname is Pony — apparently part of a network of puns about horses.

Ma's nickname is Pony — apparently part of a network of puns about horses. play

Ma's nickname is Pony — apparently part of a network of puns about horses.

(Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Although his given name is Huateng, Ma also goes by Pony — a nickname likely chosen for its English meaning.

Pony and Tencent’s names, as well as Ma’s own surname, are all horse references. "Ma" means horse in Chinese, while Tencent’s Chinese name, teng xin, stands for "an era of messaging in the speed of 10,000 horses running."



Tencent had humble beginnings. Ma founded the company in 1998, aged 26, and its first product was a knockoff.

Two people use smartphones under a Tencent logo at a 2014 internet conference in Beijing. play

Two people use smartphones under a Tencent logo at a 2014 internet conference in Beijing.

(Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters)

Tencent's first product was an adaptation of Israeli instant messaging ICQ for the Chinese market, according to The Economist.



After developing a reputation as a copycat, Ma decided to put Tencent through some "institutional self-reflection" in 2011.

After developing a reputation as a copycat, Ma decided to put Tencent through some "institutional self-reflection" in 2011. play

After developing a reputation as a copycat, Ma decided to put Tencent through some "institutional self-reflection" in 2011.

(Lintao Zhang/Getty)

Ma held a series of ten bruising meetings behind closed doors, where independent experts took the company to task, according to Bloomberg.



Tencent launched WeChat that same year — and their new mindset paid off.

WeChat mascots inside Tencent's Guangzhou office. play

WeChat mascots inside Tencent's Guangzhou office.

(Bobby Yip/Reuters)

WeChat launched in January 2011, and got popular fast.

By April this year, instant messaging app WeChat and sister service Weixin had recorded 938 million monthly active users, according to Tencent's 2017 Q1 report.

Weixin and WeChat are formally the same entity — Weixin is for users with a Chinese telephone number, whereas WeChat is for foreign phones.



The company also invested in gaming and banking to keep its users hooked.

The WeChat Pay system is demonstrated at Tencent's Guangzhou office. play

The WeChat Pay system is demonstrated at Tencent's Guangzhou office.

(Bobby Yip/Reuters)

Tencent has a stake in WeBank, China's first digital-only private bank, as well as in Chinese and international game development companies.

Chinese users collectively spend 1.7 billion hours a day on Tencent apps, Bloomberg reported.



Its biggest game, "Honour of Kings," was so popular that the Chinese government called it "poison."

A child plays "Honour of Kings." play

A child plays "Honour of Kings."

(China Stringer Network/Reuters)

In July, Chinese state newspaper People's Daily said the game spread "negative energy," Forbes reported.

The accusations came even after Tencent announced restrictions limiting younger users to shorter game times — up to an hour for users under 12, and up to two hours for users between 12 and 18 — following complaints that children were getting addicted to the game.



Pony Ma sent his executives trekking through the desert to demonstrate his company's determination.

A camp site in the Gobi Desert, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. play

A camp site in the Gobi Desert, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

(Xiaolu Chu/Getty)

Ma led his company's leadership committee on a two-day hike through the Gobi Desert for their off-site retreat last year — a trip to represent the "culture of the company".

The trip consisted of two 26-kilometer hikes spread across two days, according to Bloomberg. Some members petitioned to abandon the trip and go home early, but Ma and Tencent president Martin Lau insisted on continuing.

"The trip is representative of the culture of the company," Lau later said. "We are much more focused on the direction of where we are going and the process than the share price."



Tencent's ventures made a £9.6 billion profit last year alone.

Tencent's ventures made a £9.6 billion profit last year alone. play

Tencent's ventures made a £9.6 billion profit last year alone.

(Lintao Zhang/Getty)

The company raked in a 84 billion RMB (£9.6 billion or $12.5 billion) in gross profits in 2016, according to the company's annual report.