How much do we really know about the stories behind the innovations of trailblazers like Jack Ma, Lei Jun and Robin Li?

These five tech entrepreneurs each gets a slot on Bloomberg Billionaires Index’s top 10 in China. Maybe you already know who they are, but what do you know about the story behind the business idea each one came up with?



Lei Jun
Co-founder of smartphone maker Xiaomi

Age: 48
Estimated net worth: US$11.3 billion

Lei started Xiaomi, which is referred to as the “Apple of China”, after turning 40. Xiaomi, which means “millet” in Chinese, makes smartphones, TVs, smart devices and even home appliances. It is now the fourth largest smartphone company after Samsung, Huawei and Apple.

“A book and a person changed my life,” says Lei in the book Seizing the Opportune Moment written by Jiang Hongjun. “The book, Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer, gave me this inspiration – if you have a dream, give it a try. Maybe in the end, you really can build a world-class company.”


William Ding
Founder of online games operator NetEase

Age: 46
Estimated net worth: US$13.1 billion

NetEase, meaning “net easy”, was founded by William Ding in 1997 when he was just 26. Today, the company is famous for its online games, email, news services and e-commerce platform Kaola.


Robin Li
Co-founder of internet search engine Baidu

Age: 49
Estimated net worth: US$14.4 billion

Baidu is now the most popular search engine in China. The company’s other products include the web-based Baidu Encyclopaedia and the video platforms iQiyi and PPS.


Pony Ma
Co-founder of internet conglomerate Tencent
Age: 46
Estimated net worth: US$29.3 billion

At just age 27, Pony Ma founded Tencent together with his team, including Zhang Zhidong, who is also one of China’s top 10 billionaires.

Tencent, or Tengxun in Chinese, stands for “galloping message”. The company is popular for its social network platforms such as QQ and WeChat, Tencent Games and other internet utilities like Tencent Map.

Ma is actually quite a media-shy person. Yet, according to China Daily, he once revealed that he started his business by copying others. 

“But copying others can’t make you great. So the key is how to localise a great idea and create domestic innovation.”


Jack Ma
Founder of e-commerce company Alibaba

Age: 54
Estimated net worth: US$37.9 billion

Jack Ma, or Ma Yun in Chinese, founded Alibaba when he was 35 years old. Alibaba is now China’s largest e-commerce company, and runs online shopping platforms Taobao and Tmall, online payment platforms Alipay and Ant Financial.


RATING:  #RobertReview (China Technology):  9 | 10



Who are China’s top 5 tech billionaires and what was their ‘eureka!’ moment?

How much do we really know about the stories behind the innovations of trailblazers like Jack Ma, Lei Jun and Robin Li?

PUBLISHED:  29th November 2018.


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