There's a new company in the $500 billion valuation club and odds are, most people in the US have never heard of it.
Tencent, the Chinese technology conglomerate that has its hands in all sorts of endeavors, closed trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Monday with a valuation of HK$3.99 trillion (around $510 billion).
Tencent joins other technology giants like Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft with a valuation of over half a trillion. As Quartz recounts, Amazon hit a $500 billion valuation in July after going public in 1997. Facebook hit a similar valuation in the same month it launched its IPO (back in mid-2012).
Tencent went public in 2004 and priced its shares at HK$3.70 (around $0.47 at the time). Growth was slow early on but things picked up in 2009, climbing steadily through 2013. This year, however, the company's stock went haywire. It's doubled since the beginning of 2017.
To put things into perspective, an investment of just $1,764 back in 2004 would now be worth $1 million.
The company owes much of its recent success to the overwhelming popularity of its mobile messaging app, WeChat. Although it hasn't quite caught on with international users, it's the top messaging app in China and has nearly one billion users. It doesn't directly make much money but it does help to funnel people to its games and that, according to Quartz, is a big cash cow.