You might think the biggest shareholder in China’s largest tech company Tencent was the Chinese government or a local venture capitalist. Instead, it’s a South Africa-based newspaper publisher called Naspers, which parlayed a $32 million investment in Tencent 17 years ago into a stake now worth about $180 billion.
Since hitting gold with Tencent, Naspers has become a diversified e-commerce giant and a global tech investor. And it’s done so while staying below the radar. Unlike global investors like SoftBank, which has invested in big, established U.S. firms like Sprint, Naspers focuses on startups with growth potential in emerging markets, a senior Naspers investment executive, Larry Illg, told The Information in a rare interview.