Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#126 Joseph Tsai $11.5B

Random fact: Yale Law School graduate is a member of the New York State Bar.

Overview

Tsai is a co-founder of Alibaba Group, China's biggest e-commerce company. The Hangzhou-based business operates Taobao, an online shopping site, and Tmall, a platform for companies to open online stores. The group reported revenue of 158 billion yuan ($14.7 billion) with 454 million active buyers in the year to March 31, 2017.

As of Nov. 18, 2017:
Last change -$16.9M (-0.1%)
YTD change +$5.74B (+100.2%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset BABA US Equity
Citizenship Canada
Age 52
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Joseph Tsai's net worth of $11.5B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

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of the GDP of the United States
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of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
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of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
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of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Tsai's wealth is derived from his 2.2 percent stake in Alibaba Group, China's biggest e-commerce company. The group reported revenue of 158 billion yuan ($14.7 billion) with 454 million active buyers in the year to March 31, 2017, according to the company's annual report. 

The billionaire and his wife control 56 million shares directly and through holding companies based in the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands, according a Hong Kong Stock Exchange filing dated Nov. 6, 2017.

Fifteen million shares are held by APN, a Cayman Islands-based company in which Tsai has a 30 percent equity interest. Pledged shares held through APN are included in the calculation because the shares are pledged for a liquidity event payment that may not become due.

Cash holdings include the proceeds from the sale of 5.2 million shares during Alibaba's IPO. They're valued based on an analysis of dividends, insider transactions, taxes and market performance.

Florence Shih, a spokeswoman for Alibaba, declined to comment on Tsai's wealth.

Biography

Birthdate: 1/1964
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: 1990, Yale Law School, JD 1986, Yale College, Bachelor's Degree

Joseph Tsai was born in Taipei in January 1964 to a corporate lawyer and his wife. He was sent by his parents at age 13 to Lawrenceville School, one of the most expensive boarding academies in the U.S. where he learned to play lacrosse. He graduated from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in East Asian studies and economics in 1986 and continued his education at Yale to study law.

Tsai took a job in New York as a tax associate at the lawfirm Sullivan & Cromwell. He joined the buyout firm Rosecliff as vice president and general counsel, then moved to Hong Kong as a private equity investment manager for Investor AB, the Stockholm-based holding company controlled by the Wallenberg family. He married Clara Wu in 1996.

Three years later, he was introduced to Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba.com, through a friend in Taiwan. Ma, who was running the startup from his Hangzhou, China, apartment without any financial or legal background, offered Tsai a salary of $50 a month -- a far cry from the $700,000 he was earning at Investor AB.

To Ma's surprise, Tsai took the job even though his wife was pregnant, By 2000, he was negotiating with investors, including SoftBank, Goldman Sachs and Fidelity Investments. He raised $25 million.

In later years, Tsai led efforts to establish Alibaba's headquarters in Hong Kong, list the shares in Hong Kong, and negotiate with Yahoo as a strategic investor. He's was in charge of Alibaba's initial public offering, the biggest in U.S. history. In addition to Alibaba.com, an online B2B e-commerce website, the company operates Taobao, China's top retail site, and Alipay.com, the country's most popular online-payment service.

Milestones
  • 1964 Joseph Tsai is born in Taipei, the son of lawyer Paul C. Tsai.
  • 1982 Graduates from the Lawrenceville School, a preparatory academy near Princeton.
  • 1990 Receives Yale Law School degree. Passes the New York State bar exam.
  • 1990 Practices tax law as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell in New York.
  • 1996 Marries Clara Ming-Hua Wu, an executive at American Express, in New York.
  • 1999 Takes first job at Alibaba with starting pay of $50 a month.
  • 2000 Raises $25 million from SoftBank, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and other investors.
  • 2007 Alibaba.com debuts on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
  • 2013 Promoted to executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group.
  • 2014 Alibaba raises $25 billion in world’s biggest IPO.