Tencent's four god beasts in the company's new headquarter in Shenzhen Photo: Asia Times

Because of the icon it used for its instant messaging business QQ, Tencent is known to many as a penguin.

But few people know there are four magical animals that represent the core values of Tencent, and are printed on the backs of the 45,000 employees’ staff ID cards.

The four so-called “god beasts” (in online-game jargon) are the giraffe (which represents integrity), the petrel (proactivity), the rhino and the rhino bird (collaboration) and the nautilus (innovation).

Tencent likes to credit the four animals for having blessed the company ever since it started business on November 11, 1999 as a game developer. In less than 20 years it has became a top-notch technology giant and the biggest listed company in Hong Kong by market capitalization.

The four animals take pride of place at the gate of the gym in Tencent’s new Shenzhen headquarters. The company recently held an open house event for local media to have a glimpse of the 1.8 billion yuan (US$272 million) premises that will be fully occupied by year-end.

Unlike the fancy campus-like headquarters of Google, Facebook or Apple, Tencent HQ is a down-to-earth intelligent Grade A building located at the heart of the developing Nanshan district.

It is made up of twin towers with three bridges that link the 50-storey South Tower and the 39-storey North Tower.

Two, 15,000-square-feet floors boast sports facilities that include a basketball court, swimming pool, pool tables, table tennis tables, badminton courts, fitness equipment area, dance studio, yoga room, running track and rock climbing wall.

To better cater for the well-being of its staff, Tencent offers them free breakfasts and discounted dinners after 8pm.

The buildings suffer no shortages of popular hangouts, with the favorite being the downstairs café that goes by the name of “Image”, a play on  “I” (love), “Ma” (horse) and “Ge” (brother).

The specially designed coffee shop hints at the name of founder Pony Ma and serves fine coffee at half the price of famous brand stores elsewhere in town. With only one drawback: Image is open only to Tencent staff and their clients.

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