China’s Tencent Holdings has its eyes set on India’s booming startup industry. Recent times have seen the investment firm increasing its activity in the market and emerging as one of the most closely watched investors in Indian internet startups. Experts believe that the Chinese investment major, which is trying to build a market for itself outside of its home country, wants to ape the kind of presence Chinese ecommerce major Alibaba has been able to achieve in the Indian subcontinent.

According to information available, the Chinese investment holding company has so far already invested a whopping $850-900 million in the Indian startup Industry. This includes its $700 million investment in India’s ecommerce leader Flipkart Ltd.

Tencent made its investor entry into the Indian startup industry two years ago in 2015 by leading a $90 million round in Practo Technologies, a digital health platform. Other than Flipkart and Practo, the Chinese company has also invested in India’s homegrown WhatsApp rival messaging app Hike. According to media reports, the investment firm has reportedly recently also invested somewhere between $400-500 million in India’s homegrown ride-hailing giant Ola.

With Ola, the Chinese investment holding group will be marking its presence in four major sectors of the Indian market: ecommerce, cab-hailing segment, digital healthcare and messaging.

According to a report in Livemint, Tencent Holdings has plans of entering and capturing various other Indian sectors with its presence in the next few years. In fact, two people close to the firm told the newspaper that the Chinese investment firm is currently in talks for investing in online insurance retailer Policybazaar. They also revealed that the firm has appointed Tejeshwi Sharma from Sequoia Capital India to fetch them interesting investment opportunities in the Indian internet market. Currently, Chris Huskey, a senior Tencent executive based out of Hong Kong, is responding for tracking the firm’s investments in the Indian market.

Not many know that the company first debuted its presence in India in 2014 when it set up a shop here with an aim of taking its messaging app WeChat to next levels of popularity. However, unable to stand WhatsApp’s competition, Tencent decided to make a shift from running a business in the country to investing in them in 2016.

Currently valued at more than a jaw-dropping $400 billion, Tencent makes majority of its money from two of its messaging apps, WeChat and QQ, which are all-in-one platforms for gaming, shopping, social networking and even includes payments.

Tencent and Alibaba, both consider India has a crucial market for themselves outside of their home country, China. As their country’s internet market has started its journey towards maturing, both the companies have to expand their horizons to markets outside of their country if they wish to keep pace with the growth rate and maintain their valuations.

India’s internet market is considered as the last major unconquered market in the world. While the size of the market might just be a fraction of China’s Internet market, but the country with the second largest population on the planet offers a large pool of internet users, which is considered as an important metric when it comes to internet business.

“Tencent believes that India is behind China by 5-10 years. It thinks that India will play out in a somewhat similar way to China, so it is placing bets early. It will start getting operationally involved in some of the companies within the next two years. Tencent will back its portfolio companies that see traction, and also wants to increase its stake in them,” said one of the two people mentioned by livemint in its report.

Tencent and Alibaba are currently two of the most influential internet companies in China, who are constantly battling each other for the numero uno throne. Hence, it can be expected that their rivalry will continue in the Indian internet market as well.

[Image: The Business Times]

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