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#94 Zhang Zhidong $13.0B

Random fact: Resigned as Tencent's executive director in March 2014.

Overview

Zhang is the co-founder of Tencent Holdings, a publicly traded provider of Internet, mobile and telecommunications services. The Shenzhen-based company is led by billionaire Ma Huateng and reported revenue of $22.9 billion in 2016. Its QQ and WeChat instant messaging platforms are used by more than 1 billion people.

As of July 26, 2017:
Last change -$27.9M (-0.2%)
YTD change +$4.60B (+54.8%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset 700 HK Equity
Citizenship China
Age 42
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Zhang Zhidong's net worth of $13.0B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

0%
of the GDP of the United States
0%
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
0%
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
0%
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 Zhang's fortune is derived from his 3.4 percent stake in Tencent Holdings, the Internet company he co-founded with billionaire Ma Huateng in 1998. He owns the shares through Best Update International, a British Virgin Islands company, according to a filing dated Nov. 20, 2013 with the Hong Kong stock exchange. His shareholding in Tencent is no longer reported because his stake is below the disclosure threshold and he resigned as executive director in March 2014.

The value of his cash holdings is based on an analysis of calculated dividends, market performance and taxes.

Canny Lo, a Tencent spokeswoman, declined to comment on Zhang's stake in the company.

Biography

Birthdate:
Family: Married, No children
Education: 1996, South China University of Technology, Master's Degree 1993, Shenzhen University, Bachelor's Degree

Zhang was born in Dongguan, in southern China's Guangdong province, in 1972. At age 18, the self-described computer geek went to Shenzhen University to study computer science, where he met Ma Huateng, Tencent's current chairman. After graduating with a bachelor's degree, Zhang enrolled in a graduate studies program at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou.

He went back to Shenzhen to work for Liming Network Group, a software company that develops electronic transaction platforms for stock exchanges in Shenzhen and Shanghai. In November 1998, he and Ma co-founded Tencent, or "Tengxun" in mandarin, meaning "galloping message." Its first product, which went online in 1999, was instant messaging software similar to AOL's ICQ. At first, Zhang and Ma called this "OICQ," and change its name to QQ a few years later to differentiate their service from a similar one provided by America Online.

The free messaging services attracted more users, requiring more money to maintain it, which led Ma to try and sell the company for $16 million. He couldn't find a buyer. IDG Venture Investment Fund and PCCW, one of Hong Kong's largest telecom providers, invested $4.4 million in Tencent in 2000, taking 20 percent each.

Zhang and Ma, dubbed the "Father of QQ," have since built Tencent into China's largest Internet community, offering services including chat, group messaging, news portals, entertainment as well as e-commerce. The Shenzhen-based company sold shares to the public in Hong Kong in 2004 and, in 2009, it joined the benchmark Hang Seng Index, replacing PCCW.

Milestones
  • 1972 Born in Dongguan, in China's Guangdong province.
  • 1993 Graduates from Shenzhen University; major in computer science.
  • 1996 Obtains master's degree from South China Univ. of Technology.
  • 1998 Co-founds Tencent with Ma Huateng, the current chairman.
  • 1999 Begins offering Tencent's "QQ" service in China, an AOL copycat.
  • 2004 Completes initial public offering in Hong Kong.
  • 2008 China overtakes U.S. as biggest Internet market by subscribers.
  • 2014 Resigns as Tencent's executive director.
  • 2014 Tencent stock split gives investors five shares for each one they own.
  • 2014 Resigns as Tencent's CTO.