Tech tycoons dominate this year's Hurun Rich List

Ding Yining
Ranking of China's richest individuals shows wealth concentrating among those best adapted to digital economy.
Ding Yining

Tech entrepreneurs outnumber captains of manufacturing and real estate on the top 10 of this year's Hurun Rich List.

The changing of the guard among China's wealthiest elites saw 192 new faces on the Hurun list, while 266 from last year's ranking were unseated.

Alibaba's founder and former chairman Jack Ma, 55, retained the top spot for the second year with US$39 billion in assets.

Chairman of Tencent Pony Ma rose one place to the second after his assets grew 8 percent to US$37 billion. Pony Ma overtook property developer Xu Jiayin, whose wealth shrank 16 percent to US$30 billion.

Among the top 10, IT heads occupied four positions, followed by three tycoons from real estate.

"The average wealth of China’s top 1,800 individuals stood at a staggering US$1.4 billion and wealth is concentrating into the hands of those who are able to adapt to the digital economy,” commented Rupert Hoogewerf, chairman and chief researcher of Hurun Report.

The ranking was determined through calculation of assets as of August 15 this year.

A total of 1,819 individuals had over 2 billion yuan in personal wealth according to the list, down 4 percent on last year's 1,893.

A total of 1,136 billionaires saw their wealth shrink or remain unchanged. Meanwhile, 934 individuals saw their fortunes grow from the previous year, including 192 new entrants.

Among the listed billionaires, 19 have assets worth 100 billion yuan or more, up 60 percent from a year ago and a record high since the list was first compiled 21 years ago.

The main source of wealth for 40 percent of listed individuals was manufacturing and real estate. Yet, all eyes are on the leaders of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" as consumers and entrepreneurs embrace the digital economy and smart technologies.

Founder and Chief Executive Officer Huang Zheng of Shanghai-headquartered e-commerce giant Pinduoduo became the first self-made tycoon born in the 1980s to enter the top 10. He claimed the 7th spot, with assets of US$19 billion.

A total of 156 individuals under 40 made the list this year, 24 more than a year ago. And 22 individuals from the newly launched STAR Market were also included in the overall list, led by Chen Wenyuan and his wife Zhang Qian of electronic display test equipment maker HYC with US$3.1 billion in wealth.

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