Shi Yuzhu was born in Anhui province in 1962 and graduated from Zhejiang University with a degree in mathematics. He became a civil servant but then decamped to Shenzhen in 1989 to complete a masters degree in software.
His big break
He made his first Rmb1 million selling software he’d developed, and formed the Giant Group. He then diversified into health-related goods, and his Nao Huang Jin (Brain Gold) vitamin product became a bestseller, and he became a billionaire. He later upgraded to Brain Platinum, which Shi claims could help customers sleep.
Also known as…
‘The Comeback Kid’. Overinvestment in property saw his wealth diminish. But he bounced back with a move into online gaming in 2006. Shi was late to the party, but saw an opportunity to focus on second and third tier cities and the countryside, and marketed his own game – ZT Online – heavily in internet cafes.
As a result ZT Online has seen as many as 1.5 million people play it simultaneously. New additions to his games portfolio include Empire of Sports and King of Kings III.
He listed his firm Giant Interactive in New York in late 2007. The $887 million IPO was the largest ever in the US by a Chinese private sector company.
Shi is Chairman and CEO, but likes to be called the ‘Chief Gaming Officer’ and spends hours every night playing ZT Online, as well as collecting player feedback. The company’s motto is “Pursue excellence, pay attention to detail”.
The company’s net income in 2008 was $162.9 million. According to the Hurun Report, Shi is one of China’s richest tycoons, with a fortune of $1.8 billion.
In his own words
Like a host of other successful businessmen, Shi likes to compare his company’s push into the countryside with Mao’s similar tactics during the civil war in the 1940s. In fact, Shi is a keen student of Mao’s life, reports the China Daily.
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