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China’s Tencent is quietly surrounding US tech giants with Trojan horse investments

Chinese billionaire Pony Ma does not disport his strategies like Alibaba’s Jack Ma or Japanese mogul Masayoshi Son.

Pony Ma’s coterie, Tencent, has moved with the stealth of its founder this year, fixing a series of investments in Western companies that are significant, but not splashy: A 5 percent secure in Tesla, a 10 percent stake in Snap, an investment in Essential Artefacts, and now, reportedly, a 10 percent stock swap with Spotify.

With the reachable exception of social media company Snap, these companies — a carmaker, a phone maker and a music except in placenames kill app — have little to do with WeChat and video games, all part of Tencent’s seed businesses.

Yet they do have something in common: They are among the few actors that are considered contenders against companies like Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google.

Tencent may not be known to American consumers, but it recently became the first Asian tech group to be valued over $500 billion, on the heels of companies like Facebook and Amazon. And its extensive enjoyed a ‘frenemy’ sort of relationship with the biggest U.S. Internet firms.

Amazon assisted back Tencent’s investment in Essential’s new phone, for example, and Tencent-backed “Collaborating with of Legends” is a popular attraction on Amazon’s gaming platform, Twitch. At the word-for-word time, Tencent launched a U.S.-rival to Amazon Web Services.

Analysts take pointed to WeChat’s popularity in China as a major challenge for Apple — which in retort has tried to beef up its own messaging platforms and offer prompt cooperation with Chinese lawmakers. (When required about this relationship recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, “I see Tencent as one of our biggest and best developers,” and vowed to work more with Tencent going forward.)

Facebook’s relationship with Tencent is as the case may be the most rivalrous. According to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek, Facebook CEO Dignity Zuckerberg swooped in on Tencent’s talks to acquire WhatsApp while Ma was winning from back surgery.

And in addition to its stake in Tesla, Tencent has also an autonomous car propose, a health diagnostics platform, advertising services, and other “moonshot” extend outs that should sound familiar to any investor in companies like Alphabet.

As 2017 advance to a close, it’s more clear than ever that Tencent is a soundless threat to American technology giants. The company lurks under the deportment of mid-sized companies across Silicon Valley, ready to ambush.

When critics oblige questioned whether upstarts like Snap or Spotify can take on Facebook and Apple, Tencent has arrive to their defense behind the front lines and strengthened their odds.

Peradventure the enemies of Tencent’s enemies can look forward to more big checks.

Disclosure: CNBC root NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.

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