Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#285 John Tu $5.87B

Random fact: Bonded with Kingston co-founder David Sun over love of basketball.

Overview

Tu is co-founder and CEO of Kingston Technology, the world's biggest independent maker of computer memory products. The Fountain Valley, California-based company has four manufacturing sites worldwide producing memory modules for servers, computers and cameras, and had revenue of $6.6 billion in 2016.

As of Oct. 17, 2017:
Last change +$94.1M (+1.6%)
YTD change +$675M (+13.0%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset Kingston Technology
Citizenship United States
Age 76
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

John Tu's net worth of $5.87B can buy ...

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troy ounces of gold
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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:

Tu controls a 50 percent stake in Kingston Technology, the world's biggest independent maker of computer memory products, according to the company's website. Co-founder David Sun owns the balance. The closely held company had revenue of approximately $6.6 billion in 2016, according to a person familiar with the company.

Kingston is valued using the average enterprise value-to-sales multiple of two publicly traded peers: Transcend Information and Micron Technology. 

Tu and co-founder Sun sold 80 percent of Kingston to Softbank for $1.5 billion in 1996. The proceeds are reduced by $400 million to account for a $100 million bonus the pair distributed to Kingston employees after the sale and $300 million they deducted from the price after agreeing to renegotiate the sale terms. The details, reported by Bloomberg News at the time, were confirmed by Tu in a 2013 interview with Fortune magazine. The billionaires bought back the stake from Softbank for $450 million two years later. 

David Leong, a spokesman for Tu, declined to comment on the billionaire's net worth.

Biography

Birthdate: 8/12/1941
Family: Married, 2 children
Education: Graduated, Electrical Engineering, Technical University of Darmstadt

John Tu was born in Chongqinq, China on Aug. 12, 1941, the son of an official in China's Nationalist government. He moved to Shanghai with his parents in 1945, before going to Taiwan two years later as the Chinese civil war neared the coast. He moved in 1960 to Germany, where an uncle owned a Chinese restaurant, and began working at a shipbuilding factory before studying electrical engineering at Darmstadt University.

Tu moved to Arizona in 1970, opening a gift shop in Scottsdale before entering the real estate business as a developer. He became a U.S. citizen in 1972, and moved to Los Angeles where he met David Sun, an engineer who worked at electronic component maker Alpha Micro. The pair founded memory device maker Camintonn in 1982, and sold the business for $6 million to AST Research in 1986. The duo lost all of their savings in the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987 before founding computer memory module maker Kingston Technology, where Tu remains chief executive officer.

Tu and Sun sold an 80 percent stake in the closely held company to Softbank for $1.4 billion in 1996, and distributed $100 million of the proceeds to their employees. They bought back Softbank's stake three years later for $450 million amid shrinking demand.

Tu is married with two children. He plays the drums in his band JT & Friends.

Milestones
  • 1941 John Tu is born in Chongqing, China.
  • 1972 Becomes a U.S. citizen and moves to Los Angeles.
  • 1986 Sells Camintonn for $6 million to AST Research.
  • 1987 Loses all his savings in the Black Monday stock market crash.
  • 1987 Founds Kingston Technology with David Sun.
  • 1996 Softbank buys 80 percent of Kingston for $1.5 billion.
  • 1999 Buys back Softbank's stake for $450 million with partner Sun.
  • 2011 Kingston reports record revenue of $6.5 billion.