This blog post was not written by Michael Berookim and does not reflect the opinions of Michael Berookim.
A co-founder of a Chinese social network and internet company that has produced a popular app, WeChat, as well as numerous video games, has been named as China’s richest person. According to the wealth research firm Hurun Report in Shanghai, the CEO of Tencent, Ma Huateng, saw his wealth double in the past year to reach $47 billion. In that same time, shares in his company have increased over 100 percent.
Although Tencent, valued at $540 billion, is now worth more than Facebook, Ma’s wealth still lags behind that of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Hurun places Zuckerberg’s $79 billion fortune in fourth place behind Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
The number of very wealthy people in China is skyrocketing, with roughly four people per week moving into that category over the last year for a total of more than 200 new billionaires. Ma knocked Hui Ka Yan, a Chinese real estate billionaire worth $41 billion, from the top spot. Hui is the top shareholder and the chairman of Evergrande, a property developer, and shares in that company over the past year have increased more than 300 percent.
In all, while Americans may occupy the top wealth positions according to Hurun, China has 50 percent more billionaires than the United States with a total of more than 800. Hurun Report’s chief researcher and chairman attributes this growth to a booming tech industry in China. According to him, many young people are starting businesses in that environment. Ma got a degree in computer science from Shenzhen University in 1993 and got his start in the pager business.
The positions are volatile ones. Two years ago, Wang Jianlin, the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, was the richest man in China, but he has since slipped to eighth place as his worth has dropped to $10 billion from $27 billion. China’s fourth richest man, Jack Ma, is the founder of Alibaba, and he has seen his worth increase to $32 billion over the past year, a total of 10 percent higher than the previous year. However, global stock markets experienced a turbulent February, and Hurun’s Global Rich List only covers the period through the end of January.