The Humbling Of Jimmy Lai

How the maverick Hong Kong millionaire misread the online business

Jimmy Lai is used to taking long odds and coming out on top. Beginning with a single garment factory in 1975, the Hong Kong entrepreneur then created Giordano, a Gap-like retailer of casual clothes that is now one of Asia's top brands. Later, he challenged Hong Kong's press lords by launching a flashy weekly magazine, Next, and a muckraking newspaper, Apple Daily. They quickly became two of Hong Kong's most popular publications. And unlike other Hong Kong tycoons who kowtow to Beijing, Lai publicly savages Chinese leaders. On one occasion, he attacked former Premier Li Peng as a "son of a turtle egg," the Chinese equivalent of an S.O.B. In spite of a heavy-handed counterattack from the mainland, Lai emerged richer than ever.

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