So who are China’s five most admired entrepreneurs?
Many successful entrepreneurs have become huge celebrities on the mainland attracting an enormous number of fans
Many of China’s successful entrepreneurs have become huge celebrities on the mainland attracting an enormous number of fans.
Their appeal is not just down to their charisma, huge personal wealth, or because of the government’s public support for people who set up innovative new businesses during a time of sluggishness in the macro economy.
The success of China’s stylish, confident business leaders also serves as inspiration for the nation’s increasingly aspirational middle classes.
Here we take a look at the top five entrepreneurs who are most admired by the mainland’s general public, according to the sales of books written about them, media coverage and insights from managers of exclusive mainland entrepreneurial clubs and associations.
However, there are also some entrepreneurs that are not so widely known by the general public, even though their businesses are among the top-ranked enterprises domestically or even globally.
These are also company bosses, such as Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei, China’s largest telecom equipment maker, who choose to stay out of the public spotlight. Ren seldom agrees to give media interviews.
Ma Yun is undoubtedly the most famous mainland entrepreneur today, but the chairman of Alibaba Group is probably better known around the world as Jack Ma. As a leading online trade platform, his company is among the few to permeate the Chinese public’s daily lives.
China has more than 310 million people who shop online and Alibaba is familiar to literally each of their households. Ma is also known for giving inspiring and absorbing speeches.
At Alibaba’s first Global Conference on Women and Entrepreneurship held in Hangzhou in May , Ma spoke on his own philosophy of life, and also offered advice on how people can make the most of their lives. His talk was so well-received that it over-ran its timeslot.
Liu, 71, who founded China’s computer giant, Lenovo – the world’s largest PC maker – three decades ago, is regarded as the “godfather of mainland entrepreneurs”. He has led the way in his dealings with the government and helped to transform companies and nurture talented young executives so that he could pass on the baton smoothly to the company’s second-generation of leaders.
Many entrepreneurs, especially those working in the IT industry, said they consider books about Liu as their bible. Liu has been invited to lecture inside Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the Communist Party’s paramount powerful leaders.
The chairman of Dalian Wanda has enjoyed a high profile across China in the past few years with his Wanda shopping malls opening in a number of mainland cities, including impoverished western Chinese provinces such as Guizhou . He was named China’s richest man in Forbes magazine’s rich-list published in March, with a personal fortune valued at about US$24.2 billion – just ahead of Jack Ma, whose wealth is put at US$22.7 billion.
Wang has often hit the headlines, but not always in the way he wants. His flamboyant son, Wang Sicong, sparked controversy after saying publicly that he preferred buxom girlfriends – comments that Wang Jianlin later defended on state television and blamed on his Western education.
Wang Shi has been dubbed “big brother” by other mainland entrepreneurs for a long time because his company, Vanke, has been the largest listed real estate company for years.
The Vanke chairman has often supported the interests of entrepreneurs at public events; he is something of a media darling, too, because he often uses such occasions to discuss public welfare issues, such as the need for environmental protection.
Wang is a keen amateur mountain climber and has reached the peaks of the highest mountains on seven different continents around the world.
Tencent’s founder, Ma Huateng maintains a much lower profile than the other four entrepreneurs on our list, even though his company is one of the most influential in China.
The mainland’s online instant messaging tool, called QQ, has been used by almost every one of China’s 700 million internet users, while WeChat, a social media platform for smartphones, is used by 550 million mainlanders. These two popular softwares apps were both developed by the former software engineer’s company.