China’s fuerdai – the second generation rich – tend to get a bad rap. Earlier this year, we reported that Wang Sicong, the only son of billionaire Wang Jianlin, was banned from Sina Weibo’s ‘hot searches’ function for three months (see WiC396). The restriction was part of the social media platform’s drive to comply with government directives on delivering morally educational content.
As a fuerdai known for his playboy lifestyle, the 30 year-old has regularly stirred controversies with his dating habits, parties and lavish gifts for his dog (including a couple of gold-plated watches from Apple).
However, Wang was back in the headlines this month with some more positive news. On November 3 his eSports team Invictus Gaming (IG) won the 2018 League of Legends World Championship with a 3-0 clean sweep over a team from Europe (League of Legends is a multiplayer arena game published by California-based Riot Games, which is owned by Tencent.)
The feat was arguably more meaningful for Wang than it was for his country not least because half of the Invictus team, plus its coach, are South Korean. But for Wang, it was a solid return on an eSports investment that started in 2011.
According to Huxiu, a news portal, Wang was the first businessman to take eSports seriously and did so with an eye to building an industry chain. “A new business model was pioneered by IG: players are entitled to the cash rewards they win from competitions, yet they also have to participate in promotional activities organised by the club,” Huxiu said, noting that the model has raised the salaries of other eSports players and improved the image of the still-budding sector.
None of this would have been possible without the Rmb500 million ($72.13 million) from Wang’s father that helped start Prometheus Capital, a private equity fund that owns IG and a number of other companies in the eSports industry. They include Panda TV, a game-focused livestreaming platform; Wang Yu Wang Ka, an eSports internet café chain, and Banana Project, a talent management agency that promotes eSports stars and entertainers.
Hurun now estimates that Wang’s own wealth – as distinct from his father’s – reached Rmb5 billion as of the end of October. Wang also seems to have learned from his poor PR of the past, giving away Rmb1.13 million to 113 netizens in a lucky draw to celebrate his team’s victory and publicise the news.
However, try though he might, Wang couldn’t avoid a little unwelcome publicity. A photo subsequently went viral of him stuffing a hotdog into his mouth while he watched the League of Legends battle. Debate raged as to how someone so well brought up (he went to British boarding school Winchester) could display such bad table manners. Despite Wang’s protests, the weibo page with the hashtag “Wang Sicong eats hot dog meme” has already been viewed 390 million times and has inspired much mockery.
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