In 1998, Richard Liu Qiandong, the Chairman and Chief Executive of China’s largest e-commerce platform, JD.com, was a relative unknown in the retail business. Through a combination of sweat-equity and innovation, JD.com’s Founder built his small retail chain into one of the largest online retailers in the world, now estimated to be worth more than $12 billion. Despite the company’s unprecedented growth, which has increased by 100 percent each year, Richard Liu has no plans of slowing down, and instead, looks to further expand his empire into Southeast Asia, as well as the United States and Europe.
As a youth in the town of Suqian, located in China’s Jiangsu province, Richard Liu Qiandong assisted in his family’s business, operating in the coal-shipping industry. Throughout his upbringing, education was championed, and he was encouraged to excel in all of the activities that he participated in. This will to succeed followed Richard Liu throughout his career, and by the time he was accepted to The People’s University of China, he already held ambitions of entrepreneurial pursuits. While he majored in Sociology, eventually garnering a Bachelor’s degree, he also understood the importance of being well-rounded, learning, in his free time, the inner workings of computer coding. Although money was scarce at the time, he supported himself by providing freelance coding work for a number of established entities.
Upon graduating, he noticed that many of his peers were going abroad to study, while others were seeking employment with the government, but with little money saved, he decided to take a position with Japan Life, eventually earning the title of Director of Computers. After leaving Japan Life, Richard Liu opened his first physical store in Beijing, selling magneto-optical products. This venture was immediately successful and his small operation soon expanded to twelve locations. By 2003, Richard Liu Qiandong was a flourishing entrepreneur but was soon forced to rethink his strategy at the onset of the SARS epidemic. He opted to supplement the losses by creating an online entity, and soon, JD.com was officially born. Today, Richard Liu heads the largest e-commerce platform in China.