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The Mysterious Case of the Missing Internet Billionaire

Chen Tianqiao

Chen Tianqiao

Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

A dozen years ago, the largest internet company in China wasn’t Alibaba or Tencent, but game developer Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd. Its founder was a young man named Chen Tianqiao, who had become a billionaire at 30.

Chen was more prominent than Alibaba’s Jack Ma for much of the last decade -- then he disappeared. He left China, dropping out of public view almost completely. He took his Nasdaq-listed company private in 2012.