Flashmag Digizine Edition Issue 96 August 2019 - Page 100

Flashmag August 2019 www.flashmag.net

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Today, Shenzhen is a gigantic city with wide tree-lined boulevards and many skyscrapers, the Ping An Financial Center, which has nearly 2,000 people, is the fourth tallest building in the world. The observation deck of the building offers breathtaking views of the distant city of Hong Kong as well as the Pearl River Delta, an expanse that local boosters like to call the Great Bay area.

Tencent occupies several Shenzhen skyscrapers, including its recently opened headquarters, which connects two towers in one hall. The twin towers are also connected by an overhead bridge and offer seductive comfort in an urban working environment. Facial recognition sensors allow workers access to elevators. A race track and a swimming pool high in the sky are among the many amenities. The atmosphere in Tencent's lobby is cosmopolitan and elegant, contrasting with the suburban atmosphere on the Alibaba campus.

Despite similarities, Tencent and Alibaba are distinct companies, as different in their culture, style and approach as Apple was from Google.

The duo comes from the same period, in the late 90s, when China discovered the Internet, and built for years giant companies more or less different from each other. However, as they grew, each one inevitably began to encroach on the other's territory. Tencent, for example, invests in retail and financial services, sectors that make Alibaba's strength. Alibaba sees an opening in the Tencent area, including providing mobile messaging tools to its large network of small business partners.

A last inevitable comparison between the two companies. Their main leaders share a common family name, although Jack Ma of Alibaba and Pony Ma of Tencent are not related. As Ma's Chinese character means a horse - the genesis of the English nickname "Pony's" - the fight between the two stallions of the Chinese Internet is literally a horse race. And the trophy they are aiming for is nothing less than the leading position in a growing digital economy that is evolving more dynamically than any other country.

A View of the City of Hangzhou