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Tencent stakes its future on ‘Penguin Island’ global headquarters

Written by Brady Ng Published on     2 mins read

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Tencent is ramping up investments even as regulators scrutinize big tech.

Big tech may be facing crackdowns from regulators on multiple fronts, but Tencent has kicked off a new project to build its global headquarters on 2 million sq m of waterfront property in Shenzhen.

Tencent’s “Internet Plus Future Tech City,” as it is called, will be erected on reclaimed land along the Pearl River to host offices, residential accommodation, and plenty of green space for up to 100,000 people. There will also be dedicated facilities for developing cloud capabilities, connected medicine innovations, edtech, performance advertising, and other new technologies related to the “Internet Plus,” a movement proposed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that refers to the application of IT and web-based connectivity in conventional industries.

Chinese media calls the project “Penguin Island” in a nod to Tencent’s logo, which has a cult-like status much like Snoo, the Reddit alien.

Penguin Island will link up with the rest of Shenzhen through ferry lines, bridges, and its own subway stop. The campus will include a school, entertainment and performance venues, an exhibition center, and a promenade for visitors. Jonathan Ward, a design partner at NBBJ, the master planner behind Penguin City, told CNN that Tencent’s new global headquarters was designed around the concept of being “car-free.” With that said, there will be space for autonomous vehicles and public transportation.

Tencent’s campus will be completed in two phases. The first is set to be completed by the end of 2024, and the campus is meant to be fully ready by November 2026.

Tencent’s current headquarters in Shenzhen is a twin-skyscraper with 50 and 41 stories that went online in 2017. It utilizes facial recognition in lieu of security cards or dongles. Its lobby areas have augmented reality and virtual reality features built in.

During Tencent’s Q1 earnings call in May, management said it is stepping up investments in enterprise services, video games, and short-form video products, while regulatory scrutiny has been “relatively manageable.” In the first three months of 2021, Tencent cut checks for 103 deals, making the company China’s most active venture capital investor. On average, it took a stake in a video game company once every three days.

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