"Pony" Ma Huateng Headshot
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"Pony" Ma Huateng  

Founder and CEO, Tencent

Who says you can't make money off a social network? Ma's Internet services empire, Tencent, based in Shenzhen, China, leveraged its massive reach -- it has 450 million active instant-messenger users -- into $1 billion in revenue last year. Inspired by early instant-messaging programs, Ma and a childhood friend launched their own service, QQ, in 1999. Once he had a captive audience, he added paid services like gaming and online dating.

Sales increased 78% in the first half of this year, to $788 million; Ma's stake is now worth $3.6 billion.

Nickname: "Pony" Ma (ma is the Chinese word for "horse")

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