Colin (Zheng) Huang, 38, started working for Google as an engineer in 2004.
He stayed with the search giant for three years, and has described his time there as “incredibly valuable.”
“Google gave me far more than I contributed,” Huang has written on his personal blog.
Fast forward to present day, and the one-time Silicon Valley newbie is now one of China’s richest people, amassing a fortune worth $13.8 billion with the U.S. trading debut of his e-commerce company, Pinduoduo, on Thursday.
That sum makes him China’s 12th wealthiest individual, according to Bloomberg. Forbes, meanwhile, ranks him the nation’s 13th richest person. Worldwide, he’s one of the 100 richest people, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Shanghai-based PDD, as the company is known, listed on Nasdaq with the stock closing at $26.70 and rising as much as 44% on its first day of trading on New York’s second biggest stock exchange. The IPO, which raised $1.6 billion, is the fourth-largest in the U.S. so far this year.
Huang owns a 46.8% stake in his company, which is now valued at $29.6 billion. A Chinese e-commerce newcomer that has given the likes of Alibaba and JD.com a run for their money, Huang founded PDD in 2015.
The PDD model is one of group-buying, with a focus on lower-income customers and discounts for groups of people who buy in bulk. Toilet paper and bed sheets sell for under $5. Huang likes to use the analogy of Costco (value for money) shaking hands with Disneyland (fun), to describe his brainchild. American publications have often dubbed PDD “the Groupon of China.”
Over the past 12 months, the rate of U.S. listings by Chinese firms has tripled, according to Bloomberg. PDD itself is one of a trio of nascent Chinese tech firms, together with Cango and Aurora Mobile that began their IPO book builds last week. With concern increasingly mounting over a trade war between the U.S. and China, however, investors are watching on tenterhooks.
Huang holds a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin. He plans to donate some of his PDD shares to charities he will create himself. On his blog he writes, “Pinduoduo will always dedicate itself to doing the right things, creating value for our society and making this world a better and happier place.”