JD.com CEO Richard Liu Qiangdong had an unremarkable early life. He was born in 1974 on February 14 in the town of Suqian in China’s Jiangsu province. In 1996 he graduated from the Renmin University with a degree in sociology. He continued his education at China Europe International Business School and earned an EMBA. Richard Liu began his corporate career with Japan Life, a health product company. He left the company after two years to become an entrepreneur.
In 1998 Richard Liu opened Jingdong, a store from which he sold magneto-optical products in Beijing. Unlike his competitors, Liu sold authorized products only, therefore, his brand became associated with high-quality merchandise. His business grew rapidly. Within five years there were 12 brick and mortar Jingdong locations.
When the SARS epidemic hit China in 2003, many people, including Liu’s staff and customers, remained at home. The financial impact of SARS on his stores led Liu to change his business model. The following year Richard Liu Qiangdong founded e-commerce business that is now known as JD.com. By 2005, Liu had closed all of his brick and mortar stores. His new online retail venture started with the sales of electronics and other consumer goods.
To expand his business, Richard Liu formed partnerships with other companies. Some of these alliances allowed JD.com to offer its customers products that were otherwise unavailable in China. Some of JD.com’s partnerships have other benefits. For example, Tencent paid $215 million for a 15 percent stake in JD.com and agreed to promote JD.com on WeChat, Tencent’s social network with almost a billion users. In 2017, JD.com invested $397 million in luxury apparel retailer Farfetch. JD.com went public in the United States on the NASDAQ in 2014. JD.com counts Walmart among its shareholders.
Today JD.com is China’s largest e-commerce company by revenue and has an estimated worth of $57.6 billion. Forbes magazine estimates that Richard Liu Qiangdong has a net worth of $11 billion.
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