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William Ding

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William Ding is the chief executive officer of NetEase, an internet service provider. The Beijing-based company is best known for bringing games like Overwatch and Westward Journey to local players. Its NetEase Mail is China’s largest email service provider. It reported revenue of 96.5 billion yuan ($14.3 billion) in 2022.

The majority of Ding’s fortune is derived from his 45% stake in publicly traded NetEase, an online games operator. Its email system, NetEase Mail, is the largest email service provider in China, according to a May 2023 company presentation.

He owns the shares through British Virgin Islands-based Shining Globe International, according to the 2022 annual report.

The value of his cash investments is based on an analysis of dividends, taxes, market performance and charitable giving.

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Ding declined to comment on his net worth.


Education: University of Electronic Science & Technology of China

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William Ding was born in 1971 in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, the son of an engineer who worked at a state research institute. Ding developed an affinity for electronic gadgets while young and managed to assemble a six-tube radio when he was in middle school. He attended the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in the city of Chengdu, where he studied computer science and got a bachelor’s degree in communication technology.

Upon graduation, he took a government job as a telecommunications engineer in his hometown of Ningbo and quit two years later. He headed south to Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong province, and started to work for US software solutions provider Sybase, which was acquired by SAP AG in 2010.

Ding founded NetEase in 1997 with two friends and about $60,000 in Guangzhou, offering China’s first free e-mail service. NetEase expanded its business to an online bulletin board, news services and internet-based games.

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The company sold shares in an initial public offering in 2000. Ding shifted his business focus to sectors outside the Internet in 2011, including a business raising pigs that he started in an effort to allay fears about food safety in China.


  • 1971 William Lei Ding is born in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, in eastern China.
  • 1997 Founds NetEase in southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
  • 2000 NetEase sells shares in an initial public offering.
  • 2001 Steps down as chairman of NetEase and remains its largest shareholder.
  • 2005 Ding returns as chief executive officer of NetEase.
  • 2009 NetEase introduces World of Warcraft in China.
  • 2011 Ventures into raising pigs.
  • 2011 Starts offering StarCraft II to Chinese online game players.

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