A smartphone running the Chinese messaging app WeChat in Shanghai on Feb. 26, 2019.
Giulia Marchi—The New York Times/Redux

The conglomerate is Asia’s most valuable company—worth some $750 billion—and best known for China’s ubiquitous messaging app, WeChat. Usage soared during the pandemic as more of WeChat’s billion-plus users embraced its digital-payment tools; 2020 transactions totaled close to $250 billion, double those of 2019. In partnership with the Chinese government, Tencent also launched a “vaccine passport” program, enabling WeChat users to share their vaccination status via a QR code. And while WeChat is still grappling with controversy—the U.S. and others have raised concerns about its data privacy—Tencent continues to expand, investing in startups worldwide.

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Write to Charlie Campbell at charlie.campbell@time.com.