The overseas expansion of Chinese tech giant Tencent continues, following along with the success of its mobile chat app WeChat outside China’s borders (it now has 50 million overseas users). Today, the Malay Mail has reported (h/t TheNextWeb) that Tencent will soon open a branch office in Malaysia.
The new office will work to further localize and popularize WeChat, although with one million Malaysian users the app already has a solid foundation in the country. But it will also work to introduce new Tencent products to the Malaysian market, and it could even become a new source of exits for Malaysian startups. Tencent international business VP Poshu Yeung told the Malay Mail:
Tencent has conducted a lot of mergers and acquisitions around the world and we actively look for innovation as well as expansion opportunities.
So is this good news for Malaysian startups? It’s hard to say. Obviously, more capital in the region is a good thing, but Tencent has a well-earned reputation in China of copying startups’ ideas rather than acquiring them, and then using its massive war chest to bury the original product. And to be honest, we haven’t seen Tencent make a lot of acquisitions in Southeast Asia, so if I were a Malaysian startup, I might be a little wary of the arrival of this new office.
With that said, there’s no cause for undue paranoia before the office even opens, and if Tencent is publicly announcing its intent to look for innovation and potential acquisitions in Malaysia, then the door may well be open for Malaysian startups looking for funding or a potential exit. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see how Malaysia’s startup scene responds to the presence of the Chinese tech giant once the company has finished setting up shop there.