Today, Ma is one of the richest people in the world with a net worth of $55.5 billion, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index.While Ma oversees the company, Tencent's day-to-day operations are managed by its president, Martin Lau, according to Bloomberg. While WeChat began as a messaging app, it's evolved into much more than that. Tencent launched WeChat in 2011 with the goal of allowing users to send messages over the internet, much like WhatsApp. Since then, Tencent has added features like video calling, gaming, shopping, the ability to send mobile payments, and the option to hail a taxi or order food. The app is a major part of everyday life in China, to an extent that users outside the country can't fully comprehend. For all intents and purposes WeChat is your phone, and to a far greater extent in China than anywhere else, your phone is everything, analyst and Stratechery founder Ben Thompson wrote in 2017. There is nothing in any other country that is comparable, particularly the Facebook properties (Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp) to which WeChat is commonly compared. But WeChat has also become a surveillance tool, according to experts. Researchers at Citizen Lab recently found that WeChat has been monitoring sensitive keywords and images sent by users overseas and using the findings to help it train its censorship algorithms in China. The app also collects a substantial amount of information from its users, including their face and voice, leading some to worry that it could become an instrument for the Chinese government. Tencent outright owns Riot Games, the Los Angeles-based studio responsible for two of the world's biggest games: League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics.Tencent also owns a 40% stake in Epic Games, the North Carolina-based company behind Fortnite, the Epic Games Store, and Unreal Engine, the software suite that powers a huge portion of gaming. And it owns the majority of Supercell, the Finnish mobile gaming powerhouse behind Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and Brawl Stars.On top of that, Tencent has minority stakes in Call of Duty publisher Activision and Assassin's Creed publisher Ubisoft.And for American companies looking to get their games in front of the Chinese market, Tencent also operates as a gatekeeper of sorts. For example, when Activision wants to bring Call of Duty to China, it partners with Tencent. Same goes for EA, Sony, and Ubisoft. Moreover, Tencent operates WeGame — the Chinese equivalent of Steam, the world's largest PC gaming storefront. There's one major difference between Steam and WeGame: Tencent's version of Steam has far more users.All of that combined means Tencent is the most powerful gaming company in the world. Launched in 2015, Tencent Pictures has been involved in high-profile Hollywood projects, including: A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodTerminator: Dark FateTop Gun: Maverick VenomWonder WomanKong: Skull IslandMen in Black: International Source: Quartz, Bloomberg, PitchbookThe company has signed major distribution deals with Sony Music, Warner Music Group, and YG Entertainment, which allow Tencent to distribute their music catalogs online and promote artists from those labels on Tencent's platforms, according to Reuters. And in 2015, Tencent signed a deal worth $700 million with National Basketball Association, making the company the NBA's exclusive digital partner in China. The deal allowed Tencent to carry live games, the NBA draft, the NBA Finals, and the All-Star Game, Bloomberg reported at the time. Tencent also has a massive comics and animation business, with its app pulling in 120 million monthly active users, according to TechCrunch. Tencent is more valuable than Berkshire Hathaway and Johnson & Johnson, and is edging in on Alibaba.While Tencent is based in Shenzen, China, it has offices in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Tokyo, Palo Alto, California, and elsewhere around the world.