Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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# 87 Zhang Zhidong $18.7B

Random fact: Zhang and Ma Huateng were classmates in university.


Zhang is the co-founder of Tencent Holdings, a publicly-traded Chinese instant messaging, mobile gaming and online payment service provider. The Shenzhen-based company had revenue of 560 billion yuan ($86.8 billion) in 2021. Its mobile applications Weixin and WeChat have almost 1.3 billion users. Zhang left the company in 2014.

As of :
Last change +$351M ( +1.9%)
YTD change +$4.02B ( +27.3%)
Biggest asset 700 HK Equity
Country / Region China
Age 51
Industry Technology
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Zhang Zhidong's net worth of $18.7B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Zhang's fortune is derived from a 3.4% stake in Tencent Holdings, the internet company he co-founded with billionaire Ma Huateng in 1998. Its instant-messaging app Wechat, or Weixin, had almost 1.3 billion users as of Sept. 30, 2022, according to a company presentation.

Zhang owns the shares through Best Update International, a British Virgin Islands company, according to a Nov. 20, 2013 company filing. His shareholding in Tencent is no longer reported because he resigned as executive director in March 2014 and his stake is below the disclosure threshold. The valuation assumes that his shareholding has not changed since the last disclosure.

The value of his cash holdings is based on an analysis of calculated dividends, market performance and taxes.

Canny Lo, a Tencent spokeswoman, declined to comment on Zhang's stake in the company.


Family: Married, 1 child

Zhang was born in Dongguan, in southern China's Guangdong province, in 1972. At age 18, the self-described computer geek went to Shenzhen University to study computer science, where he met Ma Huateng, Tencent's current chairman. After graduating with a bachelor's degree, Zhang enrolled in a graduate studies program at the South China University of Technology in Guangzhou.

He went back to Shenzhen to work for Liming Network Group, a software company that develops electronic transaction platforms for stock exchanges in Shenzhen and Shanghai. In November 1998, he and Ma co-founded Tencent, or "Tengxun" in mandarin, meaning "galloping message." Its first product, which went online in 1999, was instant messaging software similar to AOL's ICQ. At first, Zhang and Ma called this "OICQ," and change its name to QQ a few years later to differentiate their service from a similar one provided by America Online.

The free messaging services attracted more users, requiring more money to maintain it, which led Ma to try and sell the company for $16 million. He couldn't find a buyer. IDG Venture Investment Fund and PCCW, one of Hong Kong's largest telecom providers, invested $4.4 million in Tencent in 2000, taking 20 percent each.

Zhang and Ma, dubbed the "Father of QQ," have since built Tencent into China's largest Internet community, offering services including chat, group messaging, news portals, entertainment as well as e-commerce. The Shenzhen-based company sold shares to the public in Hong Kong in 2004 and, in 2009, it joined the benchmark Hang Seng Index, replacing PCCW.

Zhang resigned as an executive director and chief technology officer of Tencent in 2014.

  • 1972 Born in Dongguan, in China's Guangdong province.
  • 1993 Graduates from Shenzhen University; major in computer science.
  • 1996 Obtains master's degree from South China Univ. of Technology.
  • 1998 Co-founds Tencent with Ma Huateng, the current chairman.
  • 1999 Begins offering Tencent's "QQ" service in China, an AOL copycat.
  • 2004 Completes initial public offering in Hong Kong.
  • 2008 China overtakes U.S. as biggest Internet market by subscribers.
  • 2014 Resigns as Tencent's executive director.
  • 2014 Tencent stock split gives investors five shares for each one they own.
  • 2014 Resigns as Tencent's CTO.