Tencent’s Pony Ma Says AI is a Once-in-a-century Opportunity

On May 18th, at the Tencent 2023 Shareholders’ Meeting, Tencent CEO Pony Ma responded to questions about ChatGPT and AI (Artificial Intelligence) by saying: “We initially thought that AI was a once-in-a-decade opportunity for the internet industry, but the more we think about it, the more we realize that this is a rare opportunity that only comes along every few hundred years, similar to the industrial revolution of inventing electricity.

Mr. Ma said that internet companies have accumulated a lot in the field of AI, and Tencent is also working hard on research and development. However, they are not eager to finish early and show off their half-finished products. “For the industrial revolution, it’s not so important to bring out the light bulb one month earlier when viewed over a long period of time. The key is to solidly build up the underlying algorithms, computing power, and data, as well as landing scenarios. Currently (we) are still doing some thinking. I feel that many companies are too hasty and seem to be boosting their stock prices. We have never been this kind of style.”

Ma shared that a good company cannot do everything. Through years of management experience, he has seen that focusing on the areas where one excels is essential to better leverage their value. One should not be greedy for profits and spread their valuable energy in other areas where others are more professional just to get a share of the pie. Focus can maximize one’s advantages. “Discovering which businesses can generate benefits greater than 1+1 from past businesses, using past experiences and achieving the best industry standards is crucial. Thinking about this often will make oneself more motivated,” Ma said frankly.

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On May 17th, Tencent Holdings Ltd. (00700.HK) released its Q1 2023 financial report, which showed that the company achieved operating revenue of RMB 149.986 billion, a year-on-year increase of 11% and a quarter-on-quarter increase of 3%; Non-IFRS net profit was RMB 32.538 billion, a year-on-year increase of 27%

In the financial report, “The company’s total revenue achieved solid growth, reflecting improvements in revenue structure and operational efficiency.” Ma said that Tencent is vigorously investing in building AI capabilities and cloud infrastructure to embrace opportunities brought by basic models. He believes that artificial intelligence will become a multiplier for business development.