As a boy growing up in Chang’an, a tiny village about 700 kilometers south of Beijing, Liu Qiangdong longed to one day be able to supply food for everyone in his village. Born into humble beginnings, Liu Qiangdong was actually a descendant of a wealthy shipping family that transported goods along the Imperial canal leading to Hangzhou from Beijing. Due to a reversal of fortune, his ancestors were forced to resettle at least twice. But young Liu Qiangdong was designed to restore the family fortune during his lifetime. He went on to found JD.com, the Chinese online store equivalent of Amazon.com.
Liu Qiangdong built JD.com from a small retail store that he opened briefly before bringing the operation online. Over a course of time that was astoundingly short considering its magnificent success, JD.com grew to become one of the most successful enterprises in Chinese history. As founder and CEO of JD.com, Liu Qiangdong accumulated a massive personal fortune estimated to be in excess of $15 billion.
Most recently, Liu Qiangdong has decided to step down as CEO of the mega-business that he began in June of 1998. He is not the first CEO to step down in recent months. A handful of other successful, Chinese billionaire CEOs have also stepped down from their public roles. In particular, the founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma decided to step down as the chairman. In addition, the founder of TikTok and owner of ByteDance stepped down from both his chairman position and his CEO position. Other CEOs, less well-known to U.S. audiences, but just as successful, also took a step back.
While Liu Qiangdong is no longer officially the CEO of JD.com, he does remain the Chairman of the Board of the company that he started.
The time that Liu Qiangdong, unofficially known as Richard Liu, gains from not being CEO, he plans on dedicating to charitable interests. He has already begun a campaign to support the President of China’s project to “bridge the gap” between the wealthy and the wanting.
Richard Liu Qiangdong and His Charitable Donation
All the years spent away from the tiny village where he grew up did not distance Liu Qiangdong from his desire to help others. He has always demonstrated a strong disposition toward generosity, in practical ways.
During the Lunar New Year holiday, Richard Liu Qiangdong made the exciting announcement that he is donating 62.4 million shares to a charitable foundation. While this is clearly in support of Beijing’s drive for what it calls, “common property,” it is in keeping with Richard Liu’s innate generous nature.
His donation is going to an unnamed charity, likely so that favoritism is not shown toward one charity over another. Liu Qiangdong’s desire to donate part of his wealth does not include influencing others to choose his preferred charity. Instead, it is meant to lead as an example, so that others who are in a position to do so, can also donate.
It is estimated that the 62.4 class B shares are equivalent to a staggering US$2.2 billion. The donation puts Richard Liu Qiangdong firmly in the category of the most generous philanthropists both in the U.S. and in China.
Other Chinese billionaires are already following Liu Qiangdong’s fine example of charitable giving. Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun and Wang Xing, the head of China’s food delivery company Meituan, were among the rich tech sector philanthropists who contributed $2.2 billion in stock for social causes. Tencent, China’s Internet behemoth, pledged 100 billion yuan (US$15 billion) in corporate socially responsible causes.
The future of JD.com remains bright. The company’s previous President of Jd.Com, Xu Lei, will be stepping up as the new CEO. While JD.Com is laying off some workers, the overall infrastructure is set to remain a formidable online presence in China’s e-commerce environment.
Richard Liu Qiangdong built the mega-company from humble beginnings. It’s now China’s go-to e-commerce website for every Chinese citizen. It has the largest fleet of delivery drones and is partnered with service providers and industry giants, all to provide diverse goods that are tailored to the needs and wants of its consumers. From a desire to feed a village came a giant e-commerce enterprise that can easily make Qiangdong’s parents proud. But the real sense of satisfaction is certainly with Richard Liu Qiangdong, who can now donate billions of dollars to charities of his choosing.