Recently, JD.com has been forming partnerships based more on benefiting both parties’ communities rather than board executives. JD.com was founded by Richard Liu Qiangdong, who grew up in a poor part of China. He’s always wanted to change things and make people’s lives better.
As a young man, he wanted to change things through politics. He even enrolled at Renmin University because of its connection to China’s elite. Once he realized politics was the slowest route and wasn’t a lucrative career, he decided that business would be a more productive career choice. After earning a degree in sociology, he earned an EMBA.
With EMBA in hand, next, he took a job at Japan Life, where he worked for two years and held numerous high-ranking positions. He’d fallen into debt after failing to successfully run a restaurant. Free of debt and two years smarter, Richard Liu gave entrepreneurship his best effort.
In 1998, he opened a Jingdong shop in Zhongguancun High-tech Park. His shop was one of the only stores allowed to sell authorized merchandise. Surrounded by counterfeit sellers, Richard Liu found success in selling magneto-optical products out of a four-square-meter shop. He continued finding success until he owned and operated 12 Jingdong locations throughout the city.
By 2003, his plan to build Jingdong into an empire came crashing down, as a SARS outbreak wreaked havoc on Chinese society. SARS made it dangerous for people to be around each other unnecessarily, so every one preferred to stay home and only leave under dire circumstances.
Since everyone was home, Richard Liu figured his only chance to save his business was to move online. By 2004, Jingdong had turned into JD.com and sold more than just magneto-optical products. By 2005, he comfortably closed his remaining brick-and-mortar stores and focused all his efforts on growing his new e-commerce marketplace.
Once his business was nationally successful, he began reaching out to rural communities as a form of charity. Eventually, he established a free-range chicken farm and offered local farmers jobs.