|Born||Suqian, in China's Jiangsu province|
|🎓 Alma mater||The Peoples' University Of China|
Founder and CEO of JD.com
|Creating the internationally renowned e-commerce brand, JD.com|
|🤑 Net worth||$12 billion|
Richard Liu (born Liu Qiangdong) is a world-renowned entrepreneur, CEO, and business developer. As the founder, and current CEO, of China’s leading e-commerce platform, JD.com, Richard Liu is responsible for scaling the company to become a global leader in the online shopping industry. From small retail beginnings, to spearheading a juggernaut of e-commerce, Richard Liu’s business acumen, leadership, and determination have been parlayed into a company that has enjoyed steady growth, a slew of large-scale peer partnerships, and continuous technological advancements worthy of international recognition.
Childhood and Education
Richard Liu was born in the town of Suqian, in China’s Jiangsu province. The son of coal-shipping parents, Liu was taught the values of a quality education, and excelled throughout his youth. Upon completion of primary school, Liu attended The Peoples’ University Of China, where he ultimately received a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. During his formal studies at university, Liu became cognizant of the potentially limited professional outlook within his chosen field of study, and independently pursued computer coding, and programming.
Following matriculation, Liu’s first position took him to a company called Japan Life, a large-scale provider of natural and herbal supplements within China’s bustling marketplace. As a proactive thinker, problem solver, and inventive employee, Liu climbed the professional ladder at Japan Life swiftly, ultimately becoming the company’s Director of Computers, parlaying his previously perfected computer science skills into a meaningful professional experience.
Entrepreneurship and Early Business
In 1998, Richard Liu’s entrepreneurial drive was recognized, and he opened his first retail operation, renting a small retail space within China’s answer to Silicon Valley, the Zhongguancun High-tech Industrial Park, located in Beijing. Within this operation, Liu sold magneto-optical goods under the name Jingdong, and set himself apart from competition by providing stellar customer service, ease of transaction, and authentication of product. At a time in China’s retail development riddled with knock-offs, poor quality imitations, and unauthorized products, Richard Liu’s company garnered a trustworthy reputation as a direct result of his business decision to only sell authorized products.
Throughout the next five years, as the company’s reputation continued to grow, Richard Liu parlayed his business acumen into the successful opening of twelve Jingdong retail locations. With such swift retail success, Jingdong was poised to continue on a successful traditional retail trajectory, when the entire commerce landscape shifted dramatically. In 2003, China experienced the SARS epidemic, which directly impacted China’s retail shopping culture, diminishing retail sales figures dramatically. Though Liu’s company suffered some monetary losses early on throughout the SARS outbreak, Richard Liu’s forward-thinking business intuition allowed him to pivot the entire business into the newly-burgeoning online marketplace. Liu recognized the changes occurring within the scope of commerce, and proactively shifted his business online.
By 2005, two years after the initial outbreak of SARS in China, each of Liu’s retail spaces were closed for business, and the company was rebranded as 360Buy Jingdong, the online outpost for the previously known Jingdong. Richard Liu utilized his knowledge of computer programming, along with his years of business development experience, and sold his magneto-optical products online exclusively. In the beginning phases of 360Buy Jingdong, Liu sold the same goods as were previously offered at his brick-and-mortar shops, and continued to place great importance on the concept of customer service, albeit an online model. Thus, he focused his energies of developing proprietary platforms that allowed for seamless consumer experiences, an ease-of-use for novice online shoppers, and a positive experience from order to shipment.
Recognizing the valuable nature of his back-end supply chain, user experience model, and platform design, Richard Liu pivoted his business once again, forging relationships with other vendors and suppliers, who wanted to utilize his platform to sell their wares. Thus, the most modern iteration of Liu’s empire was borne, and renamed JD.com.
JD.com and Scaled Growth
From the inception of the newly coined JD.com, Richard Liu’s focus remained on providing an extensive array of high quality product, placed together in a seamless visual manner, complete with convenience in shipping, processing, and delivery. In keeping with his initial offerings of authorized products, Richard Liu developed meaningful business relationships with various international purveyors, including the company’s impressive partnership with international giant Walmart.
Through continued technological innovation, Liu was able to accomplish great feats in terms of providing unparalleled service to a population of roughly one billion people, including residents of some of China’s most remote villages. Recognizing the positive consumer impact of rural shoppers, Liu implemented the largest fleet of drones in use in a commerce setting in order to fulfill same-day, or next-day, shipping to various tough-to-navigate landscapes.
As the company continued to enjoy annual growth, Richard Liu maintained a progressive outlook regarding the scaling of JD.com, and in early 2014, he applied to go public as a company in the United States. In the same year, JD.com became the first Chinese-based company to go public on NASDAQ. On May 22 of that year, the company’s stock rose by an impressive 15% on the day of JD.com’s IPO. With such a significantly successful public venture, Liu’s business forecasting paid off immediately, and garnered continuously successful rates of growth since going public. Additionally, Google has recently become one of JD.com’s most impressive shareholders, proving their interest in weaving inter-company strategies.
As founder, and current CEO, of JD.com, Richard Liu remains immersed in the daily operations of the company, the long-term vision and scaling of the company, and is responsible for creating an internationally renowned e-commerce brand. In the near future, Liu looks to aggressively grow market influence in Thailand, and parts of Europe, extending the reach of JD.com even further.
Forbes estimates Liu’s net worth to be north of $5.7 billion US dollars, as of early 2018. While his fortune has amassed parallel to the continued growth of his company, Liu is proudly a self-made billionaire, joining an elite club of business entrepreneurs, owners, and executives, who have not only created a visionary brand, but successfully grew the brand throughout times of uncertainty, a fickle market, and a changing global economy.