Peter Woo chaired the property developer Wheelock & Co. and its subsidiary Wharf Holdings until he stepped down in 2015. Wheelock and Wharf have holdings in telecoms, ports, and retail. Woo attended the University of Cincinnati and Columbia University then started his career in banking in New York in 1972. He married Bessie Pao, the daughter of Hong Kong shipping magnate Y.K. Pao, and he joined her family business in 1975.
Lui Che Woo started his career in the years following World War II by supplying gravel to the construction boom in Hong Kong. Now he is chairman of the Galaxy Entertainment Group of casinos and K. Wah International Holdings, property developers in Hong Kong and in mainland China. His eldest son, Francis, runs operations at Galaxy, while daughter Paddy and son Alexander oversee K. Wah. In 2015 he established the Lui Che Woo Prize to recognize achievements in sustainable development, human welfare, and "positive energy."
Zhang Yong is chief executive and co-founder of Haidilao International Holding, the parent company of Beijing-based Hai Di Lao hotpot restaurants. The chain of more than 300 locations in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan serves a boiling broth for cooking noodles, meat, and vegetables. In its initial public offering in 2018, Haidilao raised almost $1 billion. Zhang dropped out of high school to become a welder at a government tractor factory, a job he then quit to start a tiny restaurant in 1994. Specializing in customer service, Hai Di Lao restaurants sometimes offer manicures and shoe polishing services for free to waiting customers. Hai Di Lao also offers managers a share of the profits as an incentive.
Pierre Omidyar started eBay, the online auction marketplace, in 1995. Seven years later, eBay bought PayPal, the online payment company, which spun off into a separate company in 2014. After eBay went public in 1998, Omidyar and his wife started the Omidyar Foundation, supporting nonprofit organizations and endeavors, and Omidyar Network, investing in for-profit companies. Omidyar, who was born in France, lives in Hawaii.
Robert Pera, the son of a Levi Strauss denim executive, launched his startup Ubiquiti Networks at age 27 in San Jose, California. The wireless data communications products company was a hit and went public in 2011. Pera is now a controlling owner of the Memphis Grizzlies professional basketball team and has bought up luxury properties in New York, Seattle, Miami Beach, and elsewhere.
Tech entrepreneur Wang Xing is co-chairman of Meituan Dianping, the biggest e-commerce platform in China. Meituan Dianping was created by the 2015 merger of Meituan, modeled after Groupon, and Dianping.com, modeled after Yelp. Wang previously attempted to launch startups modeled after Twitter and Facebook, but they didn't take off.
Lei Jun is chairman of smartphone maker Xiaomi, which he co-founded in 2010. The company went public in Hong Kong in 2018. In 2000, he started Joyo.com, an online retailer he sold to Amazon four years later for $75 million. Lei has invested in a number of startups and is chairman of the mobile internet company UCWeb.
Shiv Nadar is a co-founder of HCL Technologies, which started in 1976 and is now a global technology giant that offers software products, platforms, and services to business and industry. The company is known for hiring high school graduates and giving them on-the-job training. In July 2020, Nadar turned over the position of HCL chairman to his daughter. The Shiv Nadar Foundation, which he started in 1994, is focused on improving access to education.
Vagit Alekperov started Lukoil, the largest independent oil company in Russia, in 1991, and today he owns almost a quarter of the company. Lukoil produces oil and gas, mostly in Western Siberia, transports its product through pipelines and ships, and operates refineries and fuel stations in Russia and the United States. Alekperov graduated from the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute, worked as an oil rig worker in Azerbaijan and Western Siberia, and was a Soviet deputy minister of the oil and gas industry. He and a partner own a Dutch shipyard, Heesen Yachts.
Jim Simons was a university mathematics professor who started trading stocks in 1978. Four years later he launched his quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, or RenTech. Using math and data, Simons designed quantitative models to detect market fluctuations and trends and algorithms to make trading decisions. He retired in 2010. During the Vietnam war, Simons served as a codebreaker for U.S. forces.
Leonard Lauder is chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder, the cosmetics company started by his mother in 1946. As chief executive, he oversaw the launch of brands such as Clinique and the acquisition of brands including Bobbi Brown and Aveda. He also is chairman emeritus of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which named its new downtown Manhattan building after him. His first wife Evelyn died in 2011, and in 2015 he married Judy Glickman, a widely recognized photographer. Lauder's memoir, "The Company I Keep: My Life in Beauty," was published in November 2020.
Leonid Mikhelson started out as a construction foreman on a gas pipeline project in Siberia and today heads Novatek, which produces about 10% of Russia's natural gas. He is Novatek's largest shareholder, with a 25% stake. He also owns a sizable stake in Silbur, a petrochemical company, and his business partner in both companies is Gennady Timchenko, a businessman with ties to President Vladimir Putin.
Dietrich Mateschitz was a marketing executive for a consumer products company before he teamed up with Thai businessman Chaleo Yoovidhya to start Red Bull in 1987. Mateschitz owns 49% of Red Bull; Yoovidhya died in 2012. Red Bull sponsors top performers in the world of sports, where Mateschitz is no slouch: he is a pilot and a skier, and he owns RB Leipzig, a German soccer club, and two Formula One racing teams. Mateschitz also raises Trakehner horses, a historic breed from East Prussia that almost died out entirely in World War II.
Lee Shau Kee made his fortune in real estate, starting Henderson Land Development in 1976. The company has holdings in hotels, natural gas, retail, and agricultural land, as well as commercial and residential property in Hong Kong and mainland China. Lee was born in China but left for Hong Kong as a young man in 1948 on the eve of the Communist Revolution. In Hong Kong, he worked as a gold and currency trader before getting into real estate. He retired in 2019 and turned control of the company over to his two sons.
Wang Wei's wealth lies in his share of more than 60% of SF Express, a package delivery service in China. Wang started his delivery career in 1993, illegally transporting packages in a minivan between Hong Kong and the mainland at a time when the Chinese postal service controlled all deliveries. The company went public on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in 2017. In 2018, it got the first license in China to begin drone deliveries.
Li Ka-Shing left mainland China with his family as a child and got his start in 1950, opening a plastics business when he was just 21 years old. He went on to build conglomerates CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. and CK Asset Holdings Ltd. About a third of his wealth consists of his investment in Zoom Video Communications, first purchased in 2013. The video conferencing app's value soared as employees around the world began working from home during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Among private philanthropies run by wealthy individuals, his Li Ka-Shing Foundation is second only to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dieter Schwarz inherited the Schwarz Group, the largest food retailer in Europe, from his father, who got his start in the wholesale fruit business in 1930. Schwarz Group consists of the supermarket chain Lidl and the discount chain Kaufland. Schwarz, an extremely private person with few details of his life known publicly, stepped down from the group's management in 1999.
Masayoshi Son runs SoftBank Group, a mobile telecom and investment giant, which he founded in 1981. SoftBank invested in lucrative startups like Yahoo, and today it has major holdings in Uber and DoorDash. Son is its biggest shareholder, with a 26% stake. In June 2020, SoftBank announced it was launching a $100 million fund to invest in entrepreneurs of color.
Michael Dell started building computers when he was a college student at the University of Texas, where he made $80,000 in sales his freshman year. He dropped out and went into business, selling $6 million worth of personal computers in his first year, 1984. Dell's wealth also comes from investments he has made in hotels and restaurants through his private firm MSD Capital. He recounted his successes in a book he wrote in 1999, "Direct from Dell: Strategies That Revolutionized the Industry."
Jack Ma made his fortune with Alibaba Group, China's giant e-commerce business. Its record-setting initial public offering in 2014 raised $25 billion. Before starting his internet business, he was a college English teacher. He is a major supporter of efforts to protect the environment, and he left Alibaba's chairmanship in 2019 to concentrate on philanthropy.
Phil Knight, a former runner at the University of Oregon, started Blue Ribbon Sports, a running shoe company, with his former coach Bill Bowerman in 1962. The company became Nike in 1978. Knight paid $35 to a student at Portland State University to design Nike's distinctive "Swoosh" logo. Knight retired as chairman in 2016.
Mukesh Ambani heads Reliance Industries, India's giant oil and gas company that was started as a small enterprise by his father. Ambani holds a 42% stake in Reliance, which also owns a 4G wireless network in India. Ambani and his brother divided the family business when their father died in 2002. Ambani also is the owner of a professional cricket team, the Mumbai Indians.
Larry Page started Google with Sergey Brin, whom he met as a graduate student in computer science at Stanford University. Page is no longer chief executive of Google's parent company, Alphabet, but, like Brin, remains a controlling shareholder. He has invested in space exploration and the development of flying electric taxis, and he is a supporter of clean energy, powering his home with fuel cells and geothermal energy. 2b1af7f3a8