Pony Ma’s Keynote at Tencent’s 25th Anniversary Celebration

On November 11th, Tencent held its 25th anniversary celebration, with Pony Ma, Liu Chiping, Zhang Xiaolong and other executives having an internal communication with employees.

Below is the full text of Pony Ma’s speech:

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Tencent‘s founding, and we have released a new management philosophy, that is, “Let the individuals at their best take the stage.” When discussing this new philosophy, Xiaolong raised a question: What does it mean to be “at one’s best”?

There can be various interpretations of being “at one’s best”. From my observation, we are at our best when we are fully engaged and focused on product development. Since its inception, Tencent has been dedicated to creating internet products with a culture that prioritizes products and puts users first; this is ingrained in Tencent‘s DNA.

As one of the fundamental components of modern society, products serve as the bridge that transforms new technologies into widespread applications. Good products can integrate into and improve our work and life. The more people use them, the greater the change they bring and the more profound their impact. That’s where the value of a product lies.

When you truly care about a product or a business, you will focus and immerse yourself in it, reaching a state of “meditative concentration”. In this state, you will naturally generate many ideas that you want to try out. A lot of value is created in the process of realizing these ideas.

The most important thing about making a good product is to care deeply about it. Only when we care can we understand the user’s real feelings, see the essence, and determine what the user cares about most and what the core features that truly bring value to the user are. Only then can we extend from the core capabilities and make the product to the utmost. The level of attention invested in this process makes a big difference in the outcome. If the passion is insufficient, the product produced will be mediocre. The development process of WeChat has further confirmed to us that the product and its value come first. The core value of WeChat is to enable instant connections, starting with connections between people. On this basis, we gradually expanded to connections between people and things, people and services, hence we have the Moments feature, Mini Programs, and WeChat Channels.

In the process of realizing these ideas and continually pursuing them, we have helped users solve real problems, won the hearts of users, and ultimately formed our unique advantages. Our technology and strength have thus been continuously enhanced.

Caring deeply also means that we have to scrutinize the details, infer other problems from one detail, and identify the real issues. We should not underestimate every small problem, every detail, as a quantitative change will eventually lead to a qualitative change. Many issues seem small, such as a pixel on the navigation bar or a font on the product page, but they hide big problems. Before the launch of the “Guangdong Province Affairs” Mini Program, the font size was adjusted five times, considering that many elderly users would need to use this Mini Program to handle affairs in the future.

Starting from the details, the most critical aspect is to think in the process of solving small problems: what does each problem mean? What principle is behind it? How did it happen? Infer other problems from one, discover and solve big problems in small ones. At Tencent, our managers can’t just assign others to solve product problems, they must become users of self-developed products, use them often, use them daily. They must devote some energy to producing problems, delve deep into thinking about them, and in this way, they will gain more than just solving a bug. This should become our habit and instinct.

Another point that is easily overlooked is the restraint in the use of resources. Before a product is truly well-developed, do not abuse platform and other resources. The core of a product’s sustainability lies in its ability to truly create value for users. If the core capabilities and product value are not thoroughly developed, attracting users through platform recommendations and marketing tactics will only result in disappointment. It will take more effort to make up for it afterwards, which is not worth the loss. So, when users are not growing organically, try not to disturb them. Adding resources and pulling marketing is like adding a filter to the product, obscuring its true nature. It is best to find the right direction and exert effort in its original state.

All of these require us to focus on the product from top to bottom, go to the front line, focus on the product and business, discover deficiencies, and create surprises. Only on the front line can you have the opportunity to see the details of the product and business, hear the real feedback from users, understand the real situation, and discover the real problems. Also, only on the front line can you most clearly know what methods and ways to solve problems are most suitable at the moment.

Internet products are constantly being updated and iterated. With the advancement of technology, the architecture of products is becoming more complex. However, products are the most honest; they faithfully record and present the effort and wisdom we put into them. There have been criticisms on the internal network saying that when they first joined the company, they often received feedback on products from department managers, but this has decreased in recent years. This phenomenon is a warning sign for us.

At Tencent, we have always advocated operational management, which means considering ourselves as the first users of the product. We don’t need people who don’t pay attention to their own products. If they don’t even use their own products, sitting in the office every day won’t generate new plans or ideas. In this year’s annual report, the corporate culture team observed 13 front-line teams. These teams covered different business lines, different products, and different departments. The persistence, focus, dedication, and determination they displayed in their daily work are the best representation of Tencent employees. Products are the foundation of Tencent‘s development – whether it’s ToC, ToB, or ToS, the core is value-oriented, product-first. We hope that each of us will invest our energy in what we truly need to do, delve deep into our products, persist in the details with a debugging spirit in management, and continuously create value for users, the industry, and society.