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Colin Huang, the 40-year-old founder of ecommerce giant Pinduoduo, is currently China’s third-richest person.
Huang on July 1 stepped down as chief executive of Pinduoduo, which has managed to rack up a market cap of more than $100 billion in less than five years.
Pinduoduo is a gamified online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers and has a market value of $101 billion — more than Uber or Sony. Huang, who owns 29.4% of the company, is currently worth more than $40 billion.
Huang’s first full-time job was at Google. He resigned in 2007, and has since been a serial entrepreneur.
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Colin Huang isn’t a household name outside of China, but he’s a serious challenger to Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Tencent founder and CEO Pony Ma for the title of China’s richest man.
Huang has just stepped down as the chief executive of Pinduoduo, a gamified online marketplace connecting buyers and sellers. It’s popular in China and has a market cap of more than $100 billion, giving it a higher valuation than Uber or Sony.
People buy items on Pinduoduo such as iPhones at sale price while playing games, and rope in friends to “group-buy” groceries at huge discounts. Pinduoduo takes a small commission and charges sellers to promote their products on its app, but doesn’t hold any stock.
Huang, 40, founded the company in 2015. It’s grown rapidly ever since, and listed in July 2018.
Huang’s fortune has exploded since. His net worth is up by $25 billion in 2020, and shares in Pinduoduo climbed to an all-time high of $87.58 on the Nasdaq on June 19.
On June 21, Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaire Index showed Huang, worth $45.4 billion, briefly surpassing Alibaba’s Jack Ma, worth $43.9 billion, to become China’s second-richest man after Tencent’s Pony Ma. Huang soon slipped back into third place and currently he is 23rd on the global Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Keep reading to learn more about the life of Pinduoduo billionaire Colin Huang.
Huang came from humble beginnings, and a math Olympiad changed his life
Huang was born in 1980 to factory worker parents on the outskirts of Hangzhou, a city in China’s eastern province of Zhejiang. It’s also where Alibaba is based.
Huang has detailed some aspects of his life in a now-suspended Medium blog.
In one post, he wrote that he went to an “ordinary” elementary school, but after he won a prize in a math Olympiad his teacher asked him to take an admission test for the highly selective Hangzhou Foreign Language School (HFLS).
He gained a place, but initially didn’t want to go as he thought the school focused on foreign languages. “I wanted to go to a school strong in Math, Physics and Chemistry,” wrote Huang.
“Later our principal called me over and convinced me to go. In retrospect, [thank] goodness that I chose to go to HFLS.”
His secondary school was renowned for its liberal approach. “We were exposed to the western culture and influence much earlier, deeper and to a greater extent. A lot of us are more liberal than our peers in other schools,” Huang said.
In the late 1990s, Huang was one of relatively few young Chinese people with internet access and international friends
At 18, Huang started studying computer science at the prestigious Zhejiang University. In his freshman year, he was selected as a fellow at the Melton Foundation, established by VeriFone founder Bill Melton.
The foundation selected young students from emerging regions around the globe. Each fellow was given a computer and internet data so they could browse the web and message other fellows. They could also travel to a member country each year. Huang credits this experience for giving him a more international mindset than most people in China.
But Huang has one big regret about his youth
Although Huang feels “very lucky” about how he was educated and the opportunities he enjoyed, describing himself as a “phoenix soaring out of a chicken coop”, he has one major regret.
“I was too goal-oriented and wasted too much time striving to be number one in class and a good student,” wrote Huang. He added that he wished he’d spent more time being rebellious, naughty, and “purely enjoying youth.”
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