China’s largest online retailer, JD.com, was founded by Richard Liu Qiandong, the company’s current Chief Executive Officer, and is currently valued at over $57 billion. Prior to becoming one of the worlds most successful entrepreneurs, Richard Liu attended the Renmin University of China, located in Beijing’s Haidian District, where he majored in sociology. He would later attend the China Europe International Business School, earning an EMBA. During his college years, Richard Liu Qiandong also attempted a number of failed businesses, while also freelancing coding work in an effort to hone his computer programming skills. While many of his contemporaries pursued job opportunities with the Chinese government, he decided that he would be better served to become a businessman.
While he did not immediately become an entrepreneur, he instead took a position with the Japan Life health product company, and soon thereafter opened his first shop selling electronics. In 1998, Richard Liu Qiandong launched his first store, which quickly grew to twelve locations throughout the area. As his success as an entrepreneur continued to grow, China experienced the SARS epidemic, which quickly put a halt to travel and face-to-face communication throughout the country. While this could have been disastrous to Richard Liu’s empire, he quickly found a solution that would revolutionize the trajectory of his growing retail operation.
By 2004, Richard Liu Qiandong had established JD.com in an effort to continue his business operations, and by 2005, upon analyzing the logistics regarding brick-and-mortar sales, realized that his e-commerce sales were significantly more lucrative. He would then close all of his physical retail locations, focusing on JD.com on a full-time basis. JD.com soon expanded beyond electronics, delving into a variety of sectors regarding consumer goods, which further expanded the reach of the company. Although there were a number of up-and-coming e-commerce companies at the time, Richard Liu noticed that many of the existing companies in China sold counterfeit goods, and decided that he would not participate in this practice. This promptly elevated JD.com to the top of the e-commerce market, making it the prime competitor to Alibaba, as well as a partner to Wal-Mart and Tencent.