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Forbes’ top Chinese CEOs list includes names from Alibaba, Tencent, and Meituan

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Shenzhen is home to more companies on the list than any other cities.

Forbes China has a new list of the country’s top 50 CEOs, and some of the biggest names in tech make an appearance. Just in the top five are the CEOs of food delivery company Meituan Dianping, Tencent, and Alibaba, the owner of the South China Morning Post.

But what makes a CEO great? With Forbes, it’s all about the numbers. The company says metrics like company valuation, profit, and returns on equity and assets all went into assessing each business leader. The CEOs also need to have held their position for at least three consecutive years. Given the dominant position of China’s biggest tech companies, some of the top names on the list should come as no surprise.

#1: Daniel Zhang, Alibaba

Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang took over as chairman of the board after company founder Jack Ma retired in 2019. Photo: Reuters via SCMP

At the very top sits Daniel Zhang, who has headed Alibaba since 2015 as the company’s third CEO, taking the reins from the successor of company founder Jack Ma.

Zhang is best known for his roles leading Taobao and Tmall, the backbone of Alibaba’s e-commerce empire in China. Zhang is also credited with creating Singles’ Day, the world’s largest shopping festival that takes place on November 11–hence the nickname Double Eleven.

#2: Pony Ma, Tencent

Forbes ranks Tencent’s Pony Ma Huateng 20th on its list of the world’s richest people. Photo: AFP via SCMP.

In close second is Pony Ma Huateng, the multibillionaire founder of Tencent. Ma, who topped Forbes China’s CEO list in 2018, built his company’s social media empire initially with the launch of QQ. This ICQ-inspired messaging service was a hit, but it was nothing compared to the company’s next big product: WeChat.

While the mobile messenger was initially seen as China’s WhatsApp, WeChat grew into China’s largest social network and the central component to users’ digital lives. It’s one of the largest mobile payment apps, along with Alipay, and people use its services and many mini programs to do everything from pay bills to hail taxis. The app has also been getting more scrutiny in the US, where President Donald Trump recently issued an executive order banning WeChat-related transactions.

#5: Wang Xing, Meituan Dianping

Wang Xing, co-founder and CEO of Meituan Dianping, built his app into the go-to place for food delivery and other on demand services in China. Photo: Bloomberg via SCMP

Coming in at number five is a tech CEO that perhaps isn’t as widely known outside China: Wang Xing, co-founder of Meituan Dianping.

Wang created several tech platforms after dropping out of college. But his biggest hit was Meituan, which started out as a group buying site similar to Groupon. That company later merged with review site Dianping and grew into China’s largest on-demand services platform, where users can order seemingly anything, including food, medicine, cosmetics and much more.

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The rest of the top 10 also has some notable tech figures. Paul Fang, CEO of electric appliance maker Midea, comes in at number eight. And William Ding, who heads multimedia giant and Tencent’s biggest gaming competitor NetEase, ranks 10th.

Just out side the top 10 in 11th place is Gree Electric Appliances CEO Dong Mingzhu. Dong has a reputation of being an “iron lady” and has ranked among the most powerful businesswomen in Asia. But she’s one of only four women on the Forbes list.

In addition to being heavily male, the average age of those listed is 54. That’s slightly below the international norm, with the average incoming CEO for Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies now 58 years old, according to executive staffing company Crist Kolder Associates.

The list also signifies Shenzhen’s position as a leading business center for China. A fifth of the companies listed have headquarters in the southern city bordering Hong Kong, more than other major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou. Notably absent, though, are the CEOs of Beijing-based companies ByteDance and Baidu.

This article was published by Abacus News


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