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Richard Liu: Entrep reneurial Evolution


  Text by Xuan Xuan

  Founder and CEO of JingdongMall (JD.com), China’s secondlargest online retailer, Richard Liu graduated from university in 1996. In 2004, he first began to sell ITproducts online, and gradually diversified Jingdong Mall’s offerings from only electronicsto garments, accessories, cosmetics,and many others. Today, Jingdong is China’slargest B2C direct sales e-commercecompany.

  In 2007, Jingdong dived into comprehensive direct B2C e-commerce. The sameyear, due to constant customer complaintsabout slow delivery, Liu established hisown logistics and delivery system. His majorrivals at the time were two e-commercegiants: Dangdang.com and Amazon.cn.By 2012, Jingdong had secured a massiveshare of China’s direct B2C market,trailing only Taobao.com. For the pastnine years, the average annual growth rateof Jingdong Mall’s business volume hasexceeded 200 percent.

  However, this legendary entrepreneur’sfirst business venture ended in failure. Bornin Suqian City of Jiangsu Province in 1974,Liu set off for Beijing to attend universityat the age of 18, majoring in sociology.He soon realized that his major wouldn’tproduce many employment options, so hetaught himself computer programming. Byhis third year in university, he was earningextra cash through programming. Atthe time, entrepreneurialism was highlyencouraged, and Liu followed the trend byopening a restaurant with his programmingearnings.

  After only a few months, the restaurantclosed – its profits drained by embezzlement by his staff. Liu not only lost everything,but had to borrow from his father. “Iwas so disappointed,” Liu recalls. “Is mangood or evil? How could my employees do this to me when I treated them so well?”

  Aiming to pay off his outstandingdebts, Liu went to work for a Japanesecompany. During his years there, he gradually came to a realization: “The restaurant’sfailure was my own fault. I didn’testablish a management structure, oversightmechanisms, financial systems or procedures.”After a few more programmingjobs over two years, he repaid all his debtsand was ready to once again start a business.

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