Richard Liu Qiangdong started out as a boy in one of the poorest parts of China. His parents owned a shipping company that didn’t make much money, so they lived a very impoverished life. As he grew up, he wanted to pursue a career in politics and make things better for people like him and his family.
Once in the big city, he enrolled in one of China’s most prestigious universities, Renmin University. By 1996, he earned a degree in sociology and was on his way to a political career. Then, he received news that his grandmother was ill, and he knew that no job in politics could make him enough money to help his family pay for her treatment.
He set his career on hold, fully intending to return to politics eventually, and began sharpening his computer programming skills. As a freelance programmer, he earned more than enough money to send back to his family and pay for his grandmother’s treatment. While working as a freelancer, he fell in love with being his own boss and making so much money.
His temporary job in the business world became his lifelong passion. He gave up on joining politics and worked toward an EMBA from the China Europe International Business School. After earning his EMBA, he took a job at a health product company called Japan Life. He worked there for two years, learning the ropes of business and holding numerous positions in the company.
In 1998, he left Japan Life and opened his own business called Jingdong. He came up with the name by combing the last part of his name with the last part of his then-girlfriend’s name. The first Jingdong location was no bigger than 45 square feet. The little shop quickly found success, and by 2003, Richard Liu had 12 Jingdong shops throughout the major cities.
When SARS forced him to close his physical shops, he moved the company online and renamed it JD.com. Today, JD.com is worth over $57 billion.