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|Born||[Note 1]10 March 1973 or 14 February 1974|
|Alma mater||Renmin University of China|
|Occupation||Founder and CEO, JD.com|
|Net worth||US$23.5 billion (February 2021)|
Richard Liu Qiangdong (Chinese: 刘强东; born 10 March 1973 or 14 February 1974[Note 1]) is a Chinese Internet entrepreneur. He has been called the "Jeff Bezos of China" and his company JD.com has been compared to Amazon due to its business model. Liu founded Jingdong as a business-to-consumer single retail store for magneto-optical products in June 1998 and later moved the company into an e-commerce website known as JD.com in 2004. Liu is the company's chief executive officer and expanded its e-commerce products from selling consumer electronics to less specialized items, which grew JD.com into one of the largest retailers in China. According to Forbes, Liu's net worth is US$9 billion as of May 2020 with a 15.8% stake in JD.com. He was included on the "China Rich List" for 2019.
Early life and biography
Liu Qiangdong was born on 10 March 1973 or 14 February 1974[Note 1] in Suqian, Jiangsu province. His parents are in the business of shipping coal from north China to the south. As a young man, Liu Qiangdong had an interest in politics. He graduated from primary school in the Jiangsu province and enrolled in the department of sociology in Renmin University of China, known for its connection to China's political elites, in 1992. However, finding the degree would not guarantee good job opportunities, Liu spent all his spare time learning computer programming. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1996, and later earned an EMBA from the China Europe International Business School.
As a college student, Liu invested his income earned from programming work and family loans into a restaurant venture. The business failed in a few months, losing more than US$200,000, which left Liu in debt. After graduation, Liu was employed by Japan Life, a Japanese health product enterprise, and successively served as the director for computers, the director for business, and the logistics supervisor.
In June 1998, he started his own business Jingdong in Zhongguancun High-tech Industrial Park in Beijing as a distributor of magneto-optical products, focusing on selling authorized products when counterfeit products were widely sold.:11 Upon foundation, Jingdong (Chinese: 京东) company was named after Liu Qiangdong himself and Gong Xiaojing (龚小京 or 龚晓京), his then-girlfriend who also graduated from Renmin University of China. They broke up in 2003. Liu had opened 12 brick-and-mortar stores under the Jingdong brand by 2003.
The SARS outbreak in 2003 kept staff and clients of Jingdong at home and forced Liu to rethink the business model and divert to online business. Due to the outbreak, Liu's business lost over 8 million yuan.:17 Liu launched his first online retail website in 2004, and founded JD.com (short form for Jingdong) later that year. In 2005, Liu closed off all brick-and-mortar stores and became an e-commerce business.
In 2005, Liu received an offer to sell JD.com for 18 million yuan, which he rejected.:27
In 2007, Liu employed a full-category strategy for JD.com, changing the company's business model from selling consumer electronics to large variety of goods.:xiii The company has become one of the leading e-commerce businesses in China. JD.com has been compared to Amazon because of similar business models, and Liu has been compared to Jeff Bezos as a self-made individual.
On 23 July 2018, Liu Qiangdong was named as the billionaire host of a private dinner party in Sydney that was the focus of a rape trial. Party guest Xu Longwei was found guilty of seven charges, including having non-consensual sex with a woman he met at Liu's apartment on 26 December 2015. Liu was not charged with a crime or accused of any wrongdoing in that case. As a result, he asked for a suppression order from the Australian court to prevent the release of his name in connection with the case, a request which was rejected.
On August 31, 2018, Liu was arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota with the charge of "rape". The complainant is a 21-year-old Chinese student who attended a dinner party with Liu on the night of August 30. After the party ended at 9:30 PM, the complainant and Liu returned to her apartment, where she alleges the rape occurred at 1:00 AM. Liu was released pending further investigation and returned to Beijing.
On September 2, 2018, JD.com issued a statement that the company would take legal action against "false reporting or rumors" after the local police found "no substance to the claim against Mr. Liu". Three American law firms have alleged that this statement was misleading and announced a class-action lawsuits in response. Liu's attorneys denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the charges are not supported by evidence.
On April 16, 2019, Liu Jingyao, a student at the University of Minnesota, formally filed a civil lawsuit against Liu Qiangdong, claiming Liu forced himself upon her in his vehicle after the dinner and later raped her at her apartment. The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000. In April 2020, the judge overseeing the case declined the motion to dismiss JD.com from the litigation; both the company and Liu are named defendants.
In August 2015, Liu married Zhang Zetian, an internet celebrity better known as "Sister Milk Tea". Their relationship started in early 2014 when Liu studied at Columbia University and Zhang was an exchange student at Barnard College, affiliated with Columbia University. Their early romance was spotted in New York City and when pictures were posted online. On April 10, 2014, Liu confirmed this relationship to the public through his Weibo account. On August 8, 2015, Liu Qiangdong and Zhang Zetian registered for marriage in Beijing. They held their wedding ceremony on October 1, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. Their daughter was born in March 2016.
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