Last week, amid reports that Facebook and Google were offering to buy Snapchat to the tune of several billion dollars, another potential buyer’s name kept popping up as well. Tencent, the Chinese tech giant, was expected to make a bid for the company or at least a large investment, but now it turns out the company already has. TechCrunch reports that Tencent made a covert investment in Snapchat earlier this year during a $60 million round back in June, citing anonymous sources in both the U.S. and China.
In a lot of ways, Snapchat and Tencent are a perfect match. The Chinese company runs several popular messaging apps in Asia with over 800 million active users, and manages to turn a revenue off its mobile platforms through in-app purchases rather that the paid advertising championed by Google and Facebook. Tencent could also provide Snapchat with a path into China, where most American Internet companies have struggled in the face of competing local services and strict government regulations.
In return, Snapchat offers Tencent an opportunity to grow beyond Asia, transforming itself from a Chinese giant into a global platform that could truly rival Facebook even in the U.S. It’s unclear if Tencent will attempt to continue to make small investments in the future or attempt to buy the company outright. For now, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel appears to have no interest in selling his app, though that may change if he hears the right offer.