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China changes face of tech billionaires

(China Daily)    10:27, August 08, 2015

Jack Ma. (Photo/Xinhua)

The world of technology billionaires is looking increasingly Chinese, with 20 from the mainland landing on the Forbes list of the 100 Richest People in Tech.

Only the United States, with 51, had more tech billionaires on the list, which was released on Wednesday.

Forbes concluded that "the next technological revolution may come from outside of Silicon Valley".

Jack Ma, 51, founder of e-commerce kingdom Alibaba Group, topped all Asian tech billionaires, and was seventh overall with an estimated wealth of $23.2 billion, despite Alibaba's share price tumbling by more than 30 percent from its peak of $119.15 in November.

Part of Ma's wealth comes from the growing financial services company Ant Financial, which operates popular electronic payment platform Alipay and online money-market fund Yu'ebao. Total sales revenue of Ant Financial was as much as 10.2 billion yuan ($1.64 billion) last year, with net profit of 2.6 billion yuan. It is expected that the average compound annual growth of Ant Financial will reach 64 percent between this year and 2017. Analysts estimate that the financial company's value will be over 50 billion yuan once it's listed.

"I think Ant Financial should go public. But since the business is still in its infancy, I have not yet planned when and where it should be listed," Ma said at a conference earlier this year.

Pony Ma, 44, founder of Shenzhen-based Internet company Tencent Holdings, best known for its instant messenger service WeChat, came in second in China with a net worth of $17.9 billion. Robin Li, 47, CEO of search engine Baidu, was bumped down to fourth in China. His company's shares have dropped nearly 20 percent in the past 12 months as it tries to adjust to the increasingly mobile-driven landscape.

Lei Jun, 46, who aspires to become "Steve Jobs in China", passed Li of Baidu to become the third-wealthiest Chinese tech tycoon with an estimated wealth of $13.4 billion. Aiming to provide affordable smartphones to consumers, his company Xiaomi shipped the largest number of smartphones in the second quarter and took the lion's share of 15.9 percent in the Chinese market, according to market consultancy Canalys.

But Lei sees a bigger picture than that.

"Xiaomi is the combination of smartphones, e-commerce and smart home. This is the business model that combined hardware, software and Internet when we set up this company," wrote Lei on Sina Weibo.

The top Chinese female technology entrepreneur was Hong Kong-based Zhou Qunfei, 45, chairwoman of Lens Technology Co, who rose to 30th with a net worth of $7.5 billion.

"Zhou Qunfei already had a lot to be proud of going into 2015," wrote Russell Flannery, Shanghai bureau chief for Forbes China. "Zhou quickly notched up an accolade after the stock's trade debut on March 18 by becoming the richest woman in the global tech industry. With the passing of a month and a more than 300 percent rise in the company's share price, the one-time factory worker has achieved another milestone: Zhou is also the world's wealthiest self-made woman."

The world's richest man, Bill Gates, 60, topped the tech list with a net worth of $79.6 billion. He left Microsoft last year to focus on philanthropy and continued to sell shares of the company. It is estimated that less than 13 percent of his wealth at present comes from Microsoft's stock.

Second on the global tech rich list was 71-year-old Larry Ellison, founder of database software company Oracle, with an estimated net worth of $50 billion. He stepped down as CEO last year but still serves as the company's chairman and chief technology officer. Oracle's total sales revenue dropped slightly to $38.2 billion in fiscal year 2014, which ended in May.

Online retailer Amazon.com not only surprised analysts with $92 million in profit reported in the second quarter, but also helped its 51-year-old CEO, Jeff Bezos, come in third with an estimated net worth of $47.8 billion, up $13 billion since the beginning of the year. More than 90 percent of Bezos' wealth comes from his 18 percent stake in Amazon.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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