Liu Qiangdong (Chinese: 刘强东; born 14 February 1974), also known as Richard Liu, is a Chinese Internet entrepreneur. He is the founder of JD.com or Jingdong Mall, one of the leading e-commerce industry leaders in China.
On Hurun Report’s China Rich List 2013, Liu was ranked 257th with a net worth of US$1.06 billion. With JD.com’s IPO in the US on 22 May 2014, his net worth rose to $6.1 billion.
Liu Qiangdong was born in 1974 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. Liu enrolled in department of sociology in the People’s University of China, known for its connection to China’s political elites. However, finding the degree will not guarantee good job opportunity, Liu spent all his spare time learning computer programming. He graduated with bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1996.
Liu later earned an EMBA from the China Europe International Business School.
As a college student, Liu invested his income earned from programming work along with family loan into a venture of restaurant. The business failed in a few months and left him 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. Two years later, in June 1998, he started his own business Jingdong in Zhongguancun High-tech Industrial Park in Beijing as a distributor of magneto-optical products. By 2003, he has opened 12 stores in the chain.
The SARS outbreak in 2003 kept staff and clients of Jingdong at home and forced Liu to rethink business model and divert to online business. 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 become an e-commerce business.
The company has become one of the leading e-commerce businesses in China. JD.com applied to go public in the US in January 2014. On 22 May 2014, the date of JD.com’s IPO, the stock price rose about 15%.
Liu is married and has two children. His romances, especially his romance and marriage in 2015, have been well publicized in China.
Liu’s girlfriend Gong Xiaojing was his sweetheart at the People’s University of China. They were in a relationship for several years. Due to different mindsets for Liu’s entrepreneurship efforts, they parted ways, and Gong left entrepreneurship to become a government employee. Liu’s company Jingdong Mall was so named to put Jing (last character of her name Gong Xiaojing) and Dong (last character of his name Liu Qiangdong) together.
Liu’s second relationship was with Zhuang Jia, a senior staff member at JD.com, in charge of the purchase and sales of small home appliances. On 15 July 2012, Liu’s followers on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, that Liu and Zhuang twitted about home-grown tomatoes 11 minutes apart. The twitted photographs were speculated to be the same tomatoes from Liu’s home on a weekend, and rumors spread that they were in an office romance. JD.com confirmed that Liu and Zhuang had been in a relationship for three years. This incident was known as “Tomato Gate”. Zhuang later left JD.com shortly after its successful launch of a small home appliances business.
Liu married in August 2015 with Zhang Zetian, 19 years his junior. Zhang is an internet celebrity better known as “Sister Milk Tea” for her photo holding milk tea posted and followed on Weibo. This relationship started in early 2014 when Zhang was an exchange student at Barnard College, which is affiliated with Columbia University. Their dating in New York City was spotted by others and intimate pictures posted online. The uncommon gap in their age and difference in life experience drew public attention and speculations. On 10 April 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 wedding ceremony on October 1, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. Their daughter was born in March 2016.