Richard Liu, also known as Liu Qiangdong, is the founder and chief executive officer of JD.com, one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms, currently worth $57.6 billion. Liu is reported to have a net worth of $7.3 billion by Forbes.
Walmart is a shareholder in JD.com, increasing its stake to 12 percent in February 2017. In June that year, it was announced that JD.com had invested $397 million in Farfetch with a mutually beneficial partnership that capitalises on the two companies’ respective reach in China and experience in luxury fashion.
Liu graduated with a degree in sociology from the prestigious Renmin University of China in 1996, but spent much of his time as a student honing his computer programming skills through freelance coding work. Liu followed his degree with an EMBA from the China Europe International Business School. Upon graduation, Liu was hired by health product company Japan Life, where he held a number of different roles during his two-year tenure including director for computers and director for business.
In 1998, Liu struck out on his own, opening a shop selling magneto-optical products in Beijing. He named it “Jingdong” after the last character of his then-girlfriend’s name and the last character of his own name. By 2003, he had expanded to 12 stores. But that year’s SARS outbreak forced both staff and customers to remain house-bound, threatening Jingdong’s future. The outbreak forced Liu to reconsider his brick-and-mortar business model, and in 2004, JD.com was born. By 2005, Liu had shuttered all of his stores to focus on e-commerce, where he began to sell a myriad of quality consumer goods alongside electronics.
In March 2014, WeChat owner Tencent acquired a 15 percent stake in JD.com for $215 million. As part of the deal, WeChat agreed to promote JD.com prominently on its social network which boasts nearly a billion monthly active users. Two months later, JD.com went public in the US in one of the biggest Nasdaq floats of that year.