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Where Alibaba And Tencent Got Their Names
Pony Ma Huateng, Chairman and CEO of Tencent Holdings Ltd., attends a press conference to announce his companies' annual results in Hong Kong Wednesday, March 19, 2014. (AP)

Pony Ma Huateng, Chairman and CEO of Tencent Holdings Ltd., attends a press conference to announce his companies’ annual results in Hong Kong Wednesday, March 19, 2014. (AP)

During our March 25 hour on the Chinese web giants on the other side of the world, host Tom Ashbrook noted that Tencent, one of China’s so-called “Big Three” sounds a little like an English allusion to something beyond the social space the company currently occupies.

“It sounds kind of like an American hip-hop name,” Ashbrook told guest Lily Kuo, a reporter for Quartz in Hong Kong.

It turns out that Tencent, unlike other “Big Three” outfit Alibaba, derives its name from a fusion of the “Chinese characters Teng and Xun which means something like ‘galloping fast information,’” Kuo wrote us after the show went off air.

Kuo also pointed out that there’s an interesting comparison to be made between Facebook’s recent blockbuster purchase of the chat application WhatsApp and the Chinese program WeChat, as well as the Alibaba investment in chat client Tango. “Some people think China’s Internet sphere is starting to set an example for others,” Kuo wrote.

It can all make for some tech-heavy reading if you aren’t familiar with the global tech sphere, but it’s definitely a fascinating topic to dig in to when you get down to it.

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