Colin Huang, founder and CEO of China’s e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo, now has a net worth of US$45.4 billion. Credit: Handout.

After working as a tech lead at online giant Google, Colin Huang decided to run his own business — that was in 2015.

Huang, founder and CEO of China’s e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo, now has a net worth of US$45.4 billion, according to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires Rankings, Caixin Global reported.

That means he has surpassed Alibaba founder Jack Ma to become the second-richest person in China, closely trailing behind Pony Ma, founder and CEO of Tencent.

In the short five years since its founding, Pinduoduo has overtaken rival to become China’s second largest online retailer after Alibaba, Caixin Global reported.

Thanks to increased user engagement as people have turned to online platforms amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Nasdaq-listed company’s shares have doubled in value since the beginning of the year.

After rapid growth in the first quarter of 2020, Pinduoduo’s market value rose sharply in June, triggered by robust sales during the annual nationwide shopping promotion on June 18, Caixin Global reported.

During the shopping festival, the number of orders on Pinduoduo exceeded 1.1 billion. The company now boasts a market capitalization of over US$104 billion with over 628 million active buyers.

Huang owns a 45% stake in Pinduoduo and has quickly risen to the top ranks of China’s wealthiest people. However, the company is far from profitable, reporting a net loss of 4 billion yuan (US$581.8 million) in the first quarter of 2020, Caixin Global reported.

Huang’s staggering net-worth has triggered mixed feelings among internet users. One user dismissed Pinduoduo as an online platform that “mostly sells counterfeit products.”

Several other users echoed this sentiment, saying they never expected the company to be so successful.

Other netizens are impressed by Huang’s wealth and optimistic about the company. “It’s only been five years since Pinduoduo was founded. The company has a bright future ahead,” one user wrote.

According to NextShark, the 37-year-old founder draws his business acumen from life experiences, one of which was some time with Google.

It was 2004 when he chose to join the then-unproven search engine over Microsoft, where he spent two years as an intern, for its “uncertainty.”

Observing the dynamics between Alibaba and Tencent, China’s top two internet companies, Huang then found the opportunity to create a service that cuts across e-commerce and games, NetShark reported.

By May 2015, he succeeded in raising US$8 million and launched PDD months later.

In essence, PDD attempts to bring the shopping mall experience right at the customer’s fingertips. The idea is to let a group of people such as friends shop together so they can get discounts, NetShark reported.

While shopping, users can share ideas, consult opinion and even gossip. This makes PDD a shopping site with a social flair, which Huang finds to be advantageous.

“A few companies have tried this before, but no one has really been able to do it. We felt we had a competitive advantage,” he said.