#Asia China’s Tencent doubles down on Southeast Asia

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Ma "Pony" Heating, Ma Huateng

Tencent CEO Ma “Pony” Huateng started up China’s social media and gaming giant in 1998. It’s now best known for the WeChat messaging app, which has over 800 million monthly active users. Photo credit: GMIC blog.

Tencent, maker of WeChat and China’s most valuable tech company, is doubling down on its push into Thailand and the Southeast Asian region.

The Chinese giant has formed a joint venture with Ookbee, the firms announced today, investing US$19 million to turn the venture into a “content ecosystem” for digital media.

The deal comes weeks after Tencent renewed its push into Thailand by shaking up its operations in the country, which center around popular web portal Sanook.

Banking on digital media

Ookbee has evolved from Thailand’s biggest ebook provider to a digital entertainment platform that connects and engages millions of content creators across Southeast Asia. The company has more than 8 million users in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. It counts 4 million monthly active users.

The joint venture, Ookbee U, will run the startup’s existing user-generated content subsidiaries in four categories: comics (Ookbee Comics), music (Fungjai), ideas and experiences (Storylog), plus literature and novels (Tunwalai and Fictionlog).

It’s expected to generate over 1 million items of user-generated content in three years.

The new venture “will be very well positioned to capture the opportunities in both the Thai and Southeast Asian markets, given Tencent’s industry expertise and tremendous resources,” says Ookbee CEO Natavudh “Moo” Pungcharoenpong. A prominent startup figure in Thailand, Moo is a managing partner of 500 Tuktuks, 500 Startups’ dedicated investment fund for the country.

Ookbee previously closed funding rounds from Thai venture capital firm Invent, owned by telecoms and media conglomerate Intouch, and Tokyo-based IT outsourcing firm Transcosmos.

We reached out to Moo on the JV’s equity split and Ookbee’s latest financials, but he declined to disclose those figures. He says they will use Tencent’s investment to grow their users and library of content. They will also hire new developers to ramp up features for their existing services. He adds two new products will be launched in the coming months.

This post China’s Tencent doubles down on Southeast Asia appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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