From the youngest entrepreneur in China to drive a unicorn, to celebrity status venture capitalists, and even a billionaire who wants to change the nation’s electric car industry, here is our list of the six most prominent entrepreneurs in China in 2015.
Bao Fan, 44, Founder and CEO of China Renaissance
Bao initiated most of the sizable mergers in China in 2015. The list includes the merger between China’s biggest O2O (online-to-offline) platform Meituan, a Groupon-like platform, and restaurant-review website Dianping in October, which was valued at more than USD 15 billion. Another noticeable merger is China’s two leading online ride-hailing companies, the merger of Alibaba-backed Didi Dache and Tencent-backed Kuaidi Dache to become Didi Kuaidi in February. The M&A deal was valued at USD 6 billion. Bao is on the hunt to find the next Alibaba, as he told Bloomberg in May. He was ranked 22nd in Bloomberg Markets 50 Most Influential in 2015.
Li Feng, in his 40’s, Co-Founder and Partner of FreeS Fund
This venture capitalist is trying to bring the disruption of the Internet to the Chinese venture capital business. FreeS Fund has attracted a huge amount of attention in the industry by performing a number of impressive feats. FreeS managed to raise RMB 920 million (USD 146 million) in only 60 days. It participated in Uber’s new round of financing in September and it invested RMB 30 million in Three Squirrels, China’s largest snack food-oriented e-commerce platform. Li previously served as partner and vice president of the China region at IDG Capital Partners. A more comprehensive report about Li can be found here.
Wang Xing, 36, Founder and CEO of Meituan-Dianping
Wang founded China’s largest group-buying site Meituan in 2010. Five years later, the company merged with Dianping, China’s answer to Yelp, to create the nation’s biggest restaurant review with a group discount service. Before he founded Meituan, this serial entrepreneur launched three social networks in China: a clone of Facebook called Xiaonei.com in 2005, followed by Fanfou, a copy of Twitter in 2007, and Hainei.com, a social network for working adults in 2007. He was shortlisted for the Chinese Business Leaders Award in 2014 organized by iFeng.com, Phoenix TV, and China National Radio.
Li Xiang, 34, CEO and Founder of Beijing Car and Home Information Technology Co.
This billionaire is entering the electric vehicle business. He is one of the investors of NextEV, China’s electric vehicle startup, which is often compared to Tesla. He also founded Autohome.com.cn in 2005 and was the CEO of the China’s largest auto trading platform. The platform provides comprehensive information covering the entire car purchase and ownership cycle. Autohome’s current market value is USD 3.92 billion. Besides being a car enthusiast, Li is passionate about building websites. He co-founded pcpop.com, one of China’s leading consumer tech websites, in 2000. Read more of AllChinaTech’s profile on Li.
Cheng Wei, 32, Co-Founder and CEO of Didi Kuaidi
The CEO of Uber’s biggest rival in China, Cheng leads China’s largest ride-hailing company Didi Kuaidi, which owns 80% of the market share after the company merged with another ride-hailing startup Kuaidi Dache in February. Didi has been expanding its services beyond ride-hailing and taxis to include car-pooling, bus, chauffeur service and more. Because of its new network of transportation services, Didi changed the name of its app from Didi Dache to Didi Chuxing in September. This year, Cheng and Didi’s President Liu Qing (or Jean Liu) topped Fortune China’s 40 Under 40 Business Leaders chart for the first time, and they also shared the third spot on the same chart in Fortune US with Lyft’s co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer, and Uber’s SVP of Global Operations Ryan Graves. More on Cheng here.
Wang Sicong, 27, Chairman of Prometheus Capital
Wang is probably better known as the son of China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, who is a real-estate tycoon. The younger Wang also sits on the board of his father’s conglomerate Wanda Group. His father gave him RMB 500 million (USD 80 million) in 2013 and he pumped the capital into his private equity fund Prometheus Capital. Since September 2012, Prometheus has invested in at least 17 companies that run the gamut from dentistry to digital studio, from restaurant chain to funeral parlor. Some analysts estimate that the younger Wang has raked in handsome rewards, in some cases seeing as much as a 500% return. More on Wang here.
（All photos from Baidu Images)