Alibaba and Tencent founders are now China’s richest people

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Founders of two Chinese tech giants are now the richest people in the country, according to latest estimates by Forbes. Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group, unseated Wang Jianlin of Dalian Wanda Group, China’s largest real estate developer as well as the world’s largest movie theater operator in May to become China’s richest person. As of July 21, Ma has a net worth of $35.4 billion. “Pony” Ma Huateng, Chairman of Tencent Holdings, also surpassed Wang this week as China’s second-richest person. The two tech billionaires rank at No.18 and No.21 worldwide, respectively.

forbes rich list china
Forbes: The World’s Billionaires (Data from July 21, 2017)

Both founders have gained from significant growth of their companies over the past year. As of June 8, shares of Nasdaq-listed Alibaba were at $125.64, up 62% from a year ago as it continued to meet market expectations. The e-commerce giant reported Q4 2017 revenues of RMB 38.58 billion ($5.61 billion), up 59.5% YoY, a spike driven by its core e-commerce business and growing cloud computing services.

Tencent has so far had a turbulent 2017, first celebrating its Honour of Kings becoming the world’s top grossing mobile game in mid-June only to see backlash a month later as state newspaper People’s Daily described the game as “poison” and called for tighter regulatory controls. In the aftermath, Tencent’s shares plunged as much as 5.1% in Hong Kong trading, wiping $17.5 billion in market value. But the social and entertainment conglomerate quickly made a comeback. On July 17, Tencent’s shares hit record high rising to HK$288.8 ($37.00) per share after China’s state rail operator invited it into its shareholding reform program, according to Caixin.

On July 20, Alibaba and Tencent Holdings also hit Fortune’s Global 500 list for the first time, ranking at No. 462 and No. 478 respectively. China has 109 companies on the list, up from 103 last year, but the US is still ahead with 132. Most of the Chinese companies listed are state-owned conglomerates such as State Grid, Sinopec and China National Petroleum which top the world’s second to fourth places. Huawei, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, rose to No. 83 since it first made the list at the 397th place in 2010. Alibaba’s arch rival JD.com debuted as the first Chinese internet firm on the list last year and ranks at 261 this year.