Wang Tao becomes Asia’s youngest tech billionaire as DJI finds wealth beneath its wings

A surge in technology stocks has bolstered the fortunes of the world’s tech billionaires, boosting the top 100’s combined estimated wealth by 21 per cent to surpass US$1 trillion for the first time.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 August, 2017, 11:27pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 August, 2017, 3:00pm

Frank Wang Tao, founder of the world’s biggest maker of civilian recreational drones, has become the youngest Asian technology billionaire on Forbes magazine’s 100 Richest in Tech list, at the age of 36.

Wang, whose wealth is estimated at US$3.2 billion, is ranked 76 on the list. A graduate of the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Wang founded his drone company DJI in Shenzhen in 2006, building it into a business with an estimated 70 per cent share of the world’s market for recreational drones.

A surge in technology stocks in the past year has further bolstered the fortunes of the world’s technology magnates, increasing the top 100’s combined estimated wealth by 21 per cent to surpass US$1 trillion for the first time.

The wealthiest tech billionaire in Asia is Jack Ma Yun, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the South China Morning Post. The wealth of Ma, who built Alibaba into the world’s largest e-commerce services provider, is estimated at US$37.4 billion.

Pony Ma Huateng, the founder of Tencent Holdings, operator of China’s largest social network, is second at US$36.7 billion.

The share prices of Alibaba and Tencent have both surged in the past year, boosting their founders’ fortunes. Jack Ma’s estimated worth increased by US$11.6 billion in 2017, while the wealth of Pony Ma, no relation, rose by US$14.7 billion, Forbes said.

Robin Li Yanhong, founder of China’s dominant internet search engine Baidu, is valued at US$15.8 billion, while online retailer JD.com’s Richard Liu Qiangdong is estimated at US$10.1 billion.

The biggest decline in wealth among China’s tech billionaires was at Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker. Founder Lei Jun’s estimated worth shrank to US$6.9 billion in 2017 from US$9.8 billion last year.

Half of the top 100 tech tycoons are Americans, including eight of the 10 richest. Bill Gates, the co-founder of the largest computer software company Microsoft, remains the richest tech billionaire on the planet, with his wealth estimated at US$84.5 billion. He managed to stave off a challenge by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, with US$81.7 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, is the third-richest tech tycoon, with US$69.6 billion. The wealth of Zuckerberg, 33, increased by US$16 billion this year.