Joseph C. Tsai
蔡崇信 Tsai Chung-hsin
January 1964 (age 55)
|Residence||Hong Kong and San Diego|
|Other names||Joe Tsai, Chung Tsai|
|Alma mater||Yale University|
|Occupation||Executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group|
|Net worth||US$8.8 billion (June 2019)|
Joseph Tsai or Tsai Chung-hsin (Chinese: 蔡崇信; pinyin: Cài Chóngxìn; born January 1964) is a Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire businessman. He is the co-founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group.
Early life, family, and education
Joseph Tsai was born in Taipei, Taiwan to Dr. Paul C. Tsai (Chinese: 蔡中曾, died May 4, 2013), a second-generation lawyer, and his wife Ruby. He has three younger siblings, Eva, Vivian, and Benjamin. At age 13, Tsai was sent by his parents to the Lawrenceville School, where he played lacrosse and was a member of the Cleve House. Tsai enrolled in his father's alma mater, Yale University, and played lacrosse there as well. He received a Bachelor of Arts' degree in economics and East Asian studies from Yale College in 1986, and a juris doctor degree from Yale Law School in 1990.
Tsai's father, Dr. Paul C. Tsai, a native of Huzhou in Zhejiang, China, was born and grew up in Shanghai and moved to Taiwan in 1948. He came to Yale in 1953, received a LL.M. degree in 1954, and in 1957 became the first ever from Taiwan to receive a J.S.D. degree from Yale Law. Upon graduation, he returned to Taiwan, served in various key government roles for 8 years, and played a leading role in drafting policies and laws that contributed to Taiwan’s economic miracle and integration into the international economy. In 1965, he turned to private practice and with his father, Ruchin Tsar (Chinese: 蔡六乘, born Jan 2, 1903 in Shanghai and died 1993), founded Taiwan’s first partnership law firm Tsar & Tsai, an industry pioneer with a reputation for quality and innovation, which also contributed greatly to Taiwan’s growth and development, particularly in the international arena by representing multinational corporations to attract foreign capital to Taiwan.
Tsai became a tax associate at Sullivan & Cromwell right after graduation and was admitted in New York on May 6, 1991. After three years at the law firm, he switched to private equity and joined Rosecliff, Inc., a small management buyout firm based in New York, as vice president and general counsel, seeking a role that allowed him to make decisions instead of providing advice. He left for Hong Kong in 1995 to join Investor AB, where he was responsible for its Asian private equity investments.
It was in this role that he first met Jack Ma in 1999 in Hangzhou after being introduced by a friend who was trying to sell his own company to Ma. Tsai was impressed with Ma’s idea to create an international import and export marketplace, as well as his charismatic personality, but it was Ma's followers and their energy and enthusiasm that ultimately convinced Tsai. Later that year he quit the $700,000-a-year job at Investor AB and offered to join Ma as a member of the founding team for almost nothing. At the time each of Alibaba’s 18 co-founders—of which Tsai was the only Western-educated member—accepted a salary of only $600 a year. He served as chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and founding board member. He single-handedly established Alibaba's financial and legal structure, since no other member of the team had any experience in venture capital or law. In May 2013, he became Alibaba's executive vice chairman. Due to his unique contribution, he has become the second-largest individual shareholder of Alibaba, right after Ma.
He is the owner of the San Diego Seals, a box lacrosse franchise with the National Lacrosse League. In October 2017, Tsai announced that he would purchase a 49% stake in the Brooklyn Nets from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov for $2.3 billion with the option to buy the remaining stake of the team in 2021. In March 2018 Tsai joined a Michael Rubin-led group to buy the Carolina Panthers. Most recently, Tsai headed a group that bought the WNBA's New York Liberty from The Madison Square Garden Company in January 2019.
Tsai is married to Clara Ming-Hua Wu, a granddaughter of Wu San-Lien, the first elected mayor of Taipei City. Clara graduated from Stanford University, where she studied international relations, and has an MBA degree from Harvard Business School. She is an advisor for Taobao. Tsai and Wu have three children. They lived in Hong Kong for over a decade and now live in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, while he still spends much of his time in Hong Kong for business. His wife Clara is a member of the school's board of trustees.
In March 2016, Tsai donated $30 million to his alma mater, Yale Law School, in honor of his father to support the continuing work of the Law School's China Center and renamed it Paul Tsai China Center.
In December 2016, Yale announced a university-wide project center for innovative thinking with a mission to inspire students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines to seek innovative ways to solve real-world problems. Six months later, in May 2017, Tsai and his wife, through the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, made another donation to Yale for the construction, launch, and programs of the center and named it Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking.
One month later, in June 2017, Tsai and his wife, again through the Joe & Clara Tsai Foundation, made a donation to his high school, the Lawrenceville School, which was the single largest gift the school ever received. Tsai is a member of Lawrenceville's board of trustees.
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- "Lawrenceville School Receives Major Gift to Launch Strategic Campus Initiatives". lawrenceville.org. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
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