Pinduoduo founder becomes China’s second-richest

Pinduoduo founder Colin Huang Zheng surpassed Tencent chairman Pony Ma Huateng to become the second-richest man in China for the first time, according to Hurun Global Rich List 2024.

The 44-year-old Huang saw his wealth surge 71 percent from a year ago to 385 billion yuan (HK$417 billion) and ranked 24th globally, less than 10 years after launching Pinduoduo.

However, Ma’s wealth contracted by 10 percent to 250 billion yuan, sliding to third place in China and 53rd worldwide. Alibaba founder Jack Ma Yun sank to 11th position in China’s list, with his wealth falling 16 percent to 150 billion yuan.

It comes as the rising online retailer from China posted stronger growth than the tech giants by gaining consumers with cheaper products amid a global economic downturn.

Pinduoduo’s net profit soared 90 percent yearly to 60 billion yuan last year, while Tencent reported a 39 percent decline over the same period and Alibaba recorded a 77 percent slump in the third quarter through December.

The strong growth helped Pinduoduo exceed Alibaba in market capitalization last December for the first time.

Nongfu Spring chairman Zhong Shanshan remained the richest Chinese billionaire for the fourth consecutive year, though his fortune deflated by 9 percent to 450 billion yuan. He is ranked at 21 on the global list.

Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing, together with his elder son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, dropped one notch to sixth place as their fortune decreased by 10 percent to 200 billion yuan amid a sluggish property market in the SAR and in the mainland.

Meanwhile, artificial intelligence becomes another key to building fortune, as Hurun found the AI boom contributed to over half of new wealth worldwide.

US chipmaker Nvidia’s chief executive Jensen Huang broke into the global richest 30 for the first time after his wealth doubled to 350 billion yuan.

China’s Cai Haoyu, a co-founder of miHoYo, which developed Tencent’s major rivalry video game Genshin Impact, saw his fortune skyrocket 210 percent to 67 billion yuan thanks to AI, the largest growth among Chinese entrepreneurs.

Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk topped the global list again, with his fortune growing 47 percent to 1.67 trillion yuan.

China lost 155 billionaires in terms of the US dollar last year amid the slower-than-expected economic recovery.

However, the country continues to have the largest number of richest entrepreneurs with 814.

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