The leadership committee of Tencent, the Chinese internet colossus, usually holds its annual off-site at a comfortable Japanese resort or Silicon Valley hotel. Last fall it went for something more epic: a two-day hike through the harsh wastes of the Gobi Desert.
The committee travelled in a manner befitting the 14 most senior executives of China’s most valuable company. Helpers assembled their tents, and water was trucked in at considerable expense for showers. Yet by the end of the first day’s 26-kilometer (16-mile) hike, some members were petitioning to pack it in and go home early. Martin Lau, Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s president, and “Pony” Ma Huateng, its co-founder and chief executive officer, insisted on forging ahead.