• World’s Largest Pension Fund Loses $165 Billion in Worst Quarter
    Bloomberg

    World’s Largest Pension Fund Loses $165 Billion in Worst Quarter

    (Bloomberg) -- The world’s biggest pension fund posted a record loss in the first three months of 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic sparked a global market rout in the period.Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund lost 11%, or 17.7 trillion yen ($164.7 billion), in the three months ended March, it said in Tokyo on Friday. The decline in value was the steepest based on comparable data back to April 2008, reducing the fund’s total assets to 150.63 trillion yen. Foreign stocks were the worst performing investment, followed by domestic equities.The results come just months after the fund revamped top management and revised its asset allocation to focus more on overseas debt. The loss, which wiped out gains for the fiscal year, may attract political attention as social security remains a major concern for tens of millions of Japan’s retirees.“The decline in domestic and foreign equities led to a negative return for the fiscal year,” said Masataka Miyazono, the president of GPIF. “Both equity markets performed strongly during 2019 even under pressures from the U.S.-China trade negotiations. The global coronavirus pandemic led to investors taking a risk-off stance.”Overseas bonds were the only major asset to generate a positive quarterly return. The securities gained 0.5%, compared with losses of 0.5% for domestic bonds, 18% for local equities and 22% for foreign stocks. In April, GPIF raised its asset allocation to foreign bonds by 10 percentage points to 25%, while keeping the target for foreign and domestic stocks unchanged at 25%.Naoki Fujiwara, the chief fund manager at Shinkin Asset Management Co., said the losses were expected. Equities have rebounded since March, so the pension fund should be recouping losses for the April-June period, Fujiwara said.“The current portfolio is exposed to equity volatility,” he said. “We’re in a low-yield environment right now, and will likely be for the next two years, so maybe it’s alright for now, but in the long run, the pension fund should correct the allocation of equities.”Read more: An Ex-Goldman Bond Trader’s Quiet Rise to Managing $1.6 TrillionUnder the new guidance of GPIF President Miyazono and Chief Investment Officer Eiji Ueda, the fund must navigate a volatile market torn between an ongoing coronavirus pandemic and promises of economic stimulus measures. Fears of a second wave of outbreak are already hampering the global equity markets recovery.The GPIF isn’t rushing to buy foreign bonds, which are 3% below its allocation target, Miyazono told reporters in Tokyo. The fund has a long-term investment timeframe much longer than 10-20 years, he said, adding that there will be no impact on pension payouts from a single year’s results.Investments in ESG indices reached a record high of 5.7 trillion yen. The GPIF, a leader in socially responsible investing, has invested in indexes such as the FTSE Blossom Japan, MSCI Japan ESG Select Leaders and MSCI Japan Empowering Women.During the January-March quarter, the MSCI All-Country World Index of global stocks slumped 22%, the worst since the global financial crisis. Yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasuries slumped 125 basis points to near record lows during the same period, fueled by unprecedented measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve and intense demand for haven assets. From April, the GPIF has adjusted its portfolio, setting a general target to keep 25% each in all four asset classes, with the allocation of each assets allowed to deviate by different ranges.(Adds second chart, ESG holdings in 10th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Liberals aren’t giving Joe Biden credit for a radical tax plan that goes after the indolent rich
    MarketWatch

    Liberals aren’t giving Joe Biden credit for a radical tax plan that goes after the indolent rich

    Biden’s unapologetic liberalism would nearly double the average tax rate paid by nonworking millionaires and make the working rich pay more into Social Security, all to help the most vulnerable.

  • Day trading stocks is a guaranteed slaughter. So why do it?
    MarketWatch

    Day trading stocks is a guaranteed slaughter. So why do it?

    Every so many years, it seems, the stock market is flooded with mindless cash, an influx of inexperienced traders looking for a quick buck and a thrill. Consider the weird saga of Hertz, the long-respected car rental brand. Hertz has warned investors that the stock could soon be “worthless.”

  • I’m a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom, and my husband earns $150,000 a year. Will I ever be able to enjoy a retirement?
    MarketWatch

    I’m a 32-year-old stay-at-home mom, and my husband earns $150,000 a year. Will I ever be able to enjoy a retirement?

    I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for five years to a 4-year-old and 2-year-old. Obviously I need to go back to work but am I too late in the game to be able to enjoy “retirement” years? You’re definitely not too late to enjoy your future retirement years.

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  • Barrons.com

    What a Democratic Sweep Could Mean for the Market

    The elections will probably arrive before a Covid-19 vaccine does. What Wall Street should expect in a Biden administration.

  • Dow Jones Futures: Coronavirus Stock Market Rally Fades, But Four New Breakouts; What's Next For Tesla?
    Investor's Business Daily

    Dow Jones Futures: Coronavirus Stock Market Rally Fades, But Four New Breakouts; What's Next For Tesla?

    The coronavirus stock market rally had a strong week despite Thursday's fade. Teladoc lead new breakouts. What's next for Tesla after a blowout week?

  • JP Morgan joins the list of Wall Street banks calling for the demise of 60/40 portfolio, despite its success this year
    MarketWatch

    JP Morgan joins the list of Wall Street banks calling for the demise of 60/40 portfolio, despite its success this year

    In a year where a classic 60/40 allocation has showed its value, JP Morgan is joining the line of Wall Street banks that are calling the demise of the traditional portfolio.

  • Fuel Cell Stock Rallies to 17-Year High After China Order
    Bloomberg

    Fuel Cell Stock Rallies to 17-Year High After China Order

    (Bloomberg) -- Shares of Ballard Power Systems Inc. rallied to a 17-year high after the company announced a $7.7 million order from China.The Vancouver-based hydrogen fuel-cell maker jumped as much as 8.3% to its highest since December 2002 after the receiving a purchase contract from Guangdong Synergy Ballard Hydrogen Power Co., a 10%-owned joint venture located in China.The company’s technology currently powers over 650 electric buses and more than 2,200 electric trucks in China, according to Alfred Wong, managing director at Ballard.“This follow-on order from the Synergy-Ballard joint venture is an important indicator of the continued progress and market demand for Ballard fuel cell technology,” Wong said in a statement Thursday. “We expect to see high adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles in China.”Ballard is the second-best performing stock on Canada’s benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index this year with a 165% rally, pushing its market value to almost C$6 billion ($4.4 billion) amid burgeoning speculation that wide-scale adoption of hydrogen fuel cells may at long last be around the corner.“We believe Ballard fuel cell technology will offer a compelling value proposition, including high reliability and durability,” Wong said in the company statement.(Updates to add value of contract in first paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Cramer Weighs In On American Tower, Starbucks And More
    Benzinga

    Cramer Weighs In On American Tower, Starbucks And More

    On CNBC's "Mad Money Lightning Round," Jim Cramer said that Vroom Inc (NASDAQ: VRM) is a great company and the auto industry is coming back. He likes the stock and he thinks that used cars are very, very hot.Cramer doesn't like Archer-Daniels-Midland Co (NYSE: ADM). The stock has really done absolutely nothing.If it's a financial technology digitized bank, it's going to go up, said Cramer. Green Dot Corporation (NYSE: GDOT) belongs to the group, but Cramer prefers Paypal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: PYPL) and Square Inc (NYSE: SQ).Cramer is not recommending the oil stocks, so he is not a buyer of WPX Energy Inc (NYSE: WPX).ANGI Homeservices Inc (NASDAQ: ANGI) is a great stock and Cramer would stay on it.Cramer prefers American Tower Corp (NYSE: AMT) over Crown Castle International Corp (NYSE: CCI).When it comes to Starwood Property Trust, Inc. (NYSE: STWD), Cramer finds it to be a sub-optimal situation.Everybody hates Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) now, but wait until you see what the CEO, Kevin Johnson, has got in mind, said Cramer. He thinks that it will be on every corner and he likes the stock.See more from Benzinga * Cramer Gives His Opinion On American Tower, Virgin Galactic And More * Fast Money Picks For June 1(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

  • Profit-Taking Early Investors Hammer Nikola Stock Price
    Benzinga

    Profit-Taking Early Investors Hammer Nikola Stock Price

    High-flying Nikola Corp. (NASDAQ: NKLA) came back to earth Thursday as early investors in the electric truck startup sold discounted shares at a handsome profit.With lockup provisions lifted, investors in a private investment in public equity (PIPE) with VectoIQ were allowed to sell most of the 53.3 million shares purchased for $10 each before the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) became Nikola in a reverse merger on June 2.Nikola shares closed down 13.22% at $57.69 Thursday as PIPE investors realized gains exceeding $50 a share based on Thursday's opening price of $64.27. Shares have traded in the mid-$60 range recently, temporarily buoyed Monday by the taking of preorders for the company's Badger battery-electric pickup with a fuel cell range extender.A tweet from Executive Chairman Trevor Milton on Thursday that $5,000 deposit Badger preorders were sold out briefly raised the stock price, but it didn't last.Nikola traded within cents of $100 a share on its third day of trading June 8. Milton, who owns about 35% of Nikola shares, declined to comment for this story.Nikola retains the $525 million raised from the PIPE but gets nothing from the share sale. It could realize $274 million from the issuance of 23 million new shares that can be purchased with 890,000 warrants beginning  Friday, according to a June 15 S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The new shares would dilute the roughly 354 million original Nikola shares while consistent selling of the PIPE-issued shares could create an imbalance of buyers and sellers.Analysts diverge Two firms covering Nikola diverge in their target price for the stock. J.P. Morgan's Paul Coster set a neutral price of $45 on June 22. Cowen, which advised VectoIQ in the reverse merger with Nikola and managed VectoIQ's initial public offering two years ago, initiated coverage with an outperform rating of $79 on June 17.Both buy into Nikola's long-term prospects for developing zero-emissions trucks that run on fuel cells along with creating a network of hydrogen fueling stations."Nikola's market opportunity is immense," Coster said, adding that Nikola shares are "fully valued.""While the PIPE and warrant share lockup may pressure shares in the near term post the S-1 becoming effective, we are positive on the longer term story," Cowen analyst Jeffrey Osborne said in an investor note Thursday.Short selling sparring Nikola won't start building trucks or making money until 2021. Short sellers borrowing shares and hoping to profit if the stock price goes down control about 3% of company stock. Milton spars with short sellers on Twitter, much as Tesla Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk did for years. Tesla became the world's most valuable transportation company in the world on Wednesday, eclipsing Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM)Nikola laid out nearly 20 pages of risks in owning its stock. For example, its 14,000 orders for fuel cell Class 8 trucks are nonbinding until lease agreements are signed.One of those customers, Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), has ordered up to 800 trucks. Building hydrogen fueling stations along Anheuser-Busch routes is a top priority, second only to successfully launching battery-electric Nikola Tre trucks in Europe next year, Milton told FreightWaves in a May 28 interview.Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.Related stories:Fuel cell startup Nikola nears public trading debutWill Nikola's breakout chart path for other high-tech startups?Shell stuffing: How Nikola became VectoIQ's public preferencePhoto: NikolaSee more from Benzinga * Square Roots, V's, W's And L's In Freight Recovery (With Video) * FreightWaves Wins 4 Gold And 9 Total Azbees For Editorial Excellence * Nikola Begins Badger Electric Pickup Marketing Push(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

  • 4 safe and inflation-beating ways to beat those sinking yields on money-market funds
    MarketWatch

    4 safe and inflation-beating ways to beat those sinking yields on money-market funds

    These low-risk vehicles give you a positive after-inflation rate on your money, writes Mark Hulbert.

  • Bloomberg

    Tesla's Overexcited Fans Should Cool Down a Little

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Back when Tesla Inc. delivered 95,000 cars to customers during the spring quarter of 2019, the stock price was languishing at about $235 and Elon Musk’s electric car company was valued at “only” $40 billion. Fast forward a year and the shares are now priced at more than $1,200. With a market capitalization of $224 billion, Tesla has surpassed Toyota Motor Corp. as the world’s most valuable automaker.Yet in the second quarter of 2020, Tesla delivered 91,000 vehicles — about 5% fewer than the same period last year. That’s pretty underwhelming for a company whose fans view it as a fast-growing technology company in the mold of Amazon.com Inc., rather than a sluggish metal-bashing carmaker. So how is the massive recent jump in its market value justified?In fairness, it shows resilience to sell this many cars when the company’s main California plant was shut by the pandemic for much of the spring period. Doubtless, Tesla’s new Shanghai plant picked up the production slack, which suggests the expense and effort of getting that China factory up and running was worth it. The launch of Tesla’s new Model Y crossover vehicle will have helped. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. both saw their U.S. deliveries decline by a third in the same quarter. Nevertheless, Tesla’s stock market acolytes pushed the shares up another 8% on Thursday, adding $16.5 billion to the market value. Such exuberance is hard to understand. Musk’s company sold 7,650 more vehicles than analysts expected during the second quarter, and the stock price jump equates to about $2 million of added shareholder value for each of those additional sales. This seems a little excessive given that a Tesla Model 3 sells for less than $40,000, and the profit margin on those cars is pretty slim.  The shareholder reaction makes even less sense when you consider that Tesla investors aren’t really meant to buying the stock because of the company’s current sales, which are less than 4% of Volkswagen AG’s. Rather, the investment case is a long-term one: that it will come to occupy a dominant position in clean transport and energy in the years ahead. That explains why the shares trade at 320 times its analyst-estimated earnings this year. Viewed through this lens, Tesla’s ability to shift a few thousand extra cars in recent weeks shouldn’t matter so much for the valuation.  Investors’ tendency to overreact to Tesla news made more sense when its survival was open to doubt. A year ago it was laying off workers, U.S. sales were slowing and its retail strategy was confused. Senior staff kept heading for the exit. The company was burning through cash and ran pretty low on financial fuel. It had just $2.2 billion of cash in March 2019, compared with more than $8 billion now.But subsequent evidence that Tesla can sell cars for more than it costs to produce them has transformed the mood — and with it Tesla’s stock price.Instead of “killing” off Tesla, the tepid electric offerings of established carmakers such as Audi and Mercedes have only underscored the quality of their rival’s battery and powertrain technology (the same can’t be said of Tesla’s build quality). Volkswagen’s software problems with its forthcoming ID.3 electric vehicle suggest catching Tesla won’t be straightforward, even with the Germans’ vast resources.Tesla’s stratospheric valuation appears to have become self-reinforcing. Should it require more money to fund its roughly $9 billion of capital expenditure over the next three years, it can raise it from shareholders without worrying about diluting them too much.Similarly, holders of more than $4 billion of convertible bonds that Tesla issued to fund its expansion should be happy to convert them into stock, rather than demand cash repayment, taking some of the pressure off the company and its balance sheet.  Still, Tesla’s valuation remains impossible to justify by any standard metrics. Analysts’ average price target is more than 40% below the current level. Even Musk has suggested that the share price, which has almost trebled since the start of 2020, is too high — although, as with his taunting of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and his comments about “fascist” lockdowns, it’s usually better to tune out what Musk says and focus on his actions instead.  The skeptics might have more faith in Tesla’s new position as the leader of the automaker pack when Musk stops his provocations and his shareholders stop getting giddy over modest good news.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Chris Bryant is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies. He previously worked for the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Barrons.com

    There Are Now 4 Trillion-Dollar Stocks. Why There Might Not Be a Fifth Anytime Soon.

    Alphabet just became the fourth U.S. company with trillion-dollar status. There’s only one other company with a market value above even $500 billion.

  • This man’s estranged wife received his stimulus check — and spent it. She won’t pay it back. What can he do?
    MarketWatch

    This man’s estranged wife received his stimulus check — and spent it. She won’t pay it back. What can he do?

    ‘The COVID-19 stimulus payment was deposited into their joint account, one that neither of them use anymore.’

  • Financial Times

    Inflation is coming

    It is high time to prepare for this change and figure out what to look out for and how one might go about immunising investment portfolios against such an outcome. Man Group’s DNA team likes to think about inflation and deflation using a paradigm we call Fire and Ice, with ice being deflation and fire hyper-inflation. Neither are good news for asset prices and we believe that investors are unprepared for the coming storm.

  • The July 15 tax deadline is almost here — here’s one reason not to worry if you’re dreading it
    MarketWatch

    The July 15 tax deadline is almost here — here’s one reason not to worry if you’re dreading it

    Americans are approximately two weeks away from the filing deadline in this prolonged tax season and the Internal Revenue Service has received 6.3 million fewer returns than the same point last year, when the filing deadline had come and gone. Here’s a potential bright spot for anyone dreading the July 15 filing deadline: There’s still a good chance they have a refund waiting for them, according to experts studying their own client files and IRS statistics. H&R Block   estimates that more than half of its clients who still haven’t filed yet are due a refund, according to Andy Phillips, director of the national tax preparation chain’s Tax Institute.

  • These stocks, including Tesla and Apple, are the real winners for the second quarter of 2020
    MarketWatch

    These stocks, including Tesla and Apple, are the real winners for the second quarter of 2020

    DEEP DIVE The second quarter was a dramatic one for U.S. stocks — the S&P 500 had its best quarter since 1998. But many of the best performers were really bounce backs from the doldrums of March, when the market hit bottom during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Financial Times

    Wall Street starts to picture Joe Biden in the White House

    A surge in support for Joe Biden ahead of November’s US presidential election is forcing Wall Street analysts to consider the potential market impact of the former vice-president winning the top job. Support for Mr Biden has surged over the past month, following criticism of President Donald Trump over his handling of coronavirus and his response to Black Lives Matter protests. On Friday betting markets put the former senator for Delaware’s chances of winning the election at more than 59 per cent, near a record high touched earlier in the week and 23 percentage points clear of Mr Trump, according to averages compiled by RealClearPolitics.

  • Shell CEO does not rule out moving headquarters to Britain
    Reuters

    Shell CEO does not rule out moving headquarters to Britain

    Royal Dutch Shell <RDSa.L> is not ruling out moving its headquarters from the Netherlands to Britain, the oil company's chief executive Ben van Beurden said in a Dutch newspaper interview published on Saturday. Anglo-Dutch consumer products giant Unilever <ULVR.L> <UNA.AS> said last month it plans to ditch its dual Anglo-Dutch legal structure and create a single entity in Britain. Van Beurden did not explicitly say Shell wants to move its headquarters, het Financieele Dagblad said.

  • Barrons.com

    These 3 Ugly Stocks Could Turn Into Beauties

    Sometimes it pays to buy the market’s most unloved stocks—like Sally Beauty Holdings, Michaels, and Blackbaud. Shares of all three reflect a lot of bad news, even as business trends are improving.

  • Wall Street shifts bets to big pharma as COVID-19 vaccine race progresses
    Reuters

    Wall Street shifts bets to big pharma as COVID-19 vaccine race progresses

    Early signs of the shift came Wednesday, when positive data for one of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine candidates sent shares of the large U.S. drugmaker up more than 3%. Although the news had little effect on shares of Pfizer’s large rivals in the vaccine race, smaller peers Moderna Inc and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc, both of which have previously shown promising COVID-19 data of their own, ended down more than 4% and 25%, respectively. For the week so far, shares of bigger players in the vaccine race, such as Johnson & Johnson and Merck , have also outperformed Inovio and Moderna.

  • Even popular Ford F series hit hard amid plummeting industry sales
    USA TODAY

    Even popular Ford F series hit hard amid plummeting industry sales

    Ford sales hit hard while Explorer and Ranger make gains

  • His Wealth Surged by $25 Billion. Then Jack Ma’s Rival Quit
    Bloomberg

    His Wealth Surged by $25 Billion. Then Jack Ma’s Rival Quit

    (Bloomberg) -- Colin Huang’s ascent is one for the history books: In just six months, his fortune swelled by $25 billion -- one of the biggest gains among the world’s richest people.His Pinduoduo Inc., a Groupon-like shopping app he founded in 2015, has become China’s third-largest e-commerce platform, with a market value of more than $100 billion. In the first quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic caused most of the nation’s economy to grind to a halt, PDD’s active users surged 68% and revenue jumped 44%, the company said in May.Now Huang, who has overseen the firm as its American depositary receipts have more than quadrupled in less than two years, has stepped down as chief executive officer.At one point, his net worth climbed as high as $45 billion, placing him just behind China’s wealthiest people -- Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Pony Ma and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Jack Ma -- on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s even as PDD continued to post losses, primarily because it chases growth with the help of generous subsidies and has been known to spend more on marketing than it earns in sales.“Pinduoduo was perfectly positioned for people being stuck at home,” said Tom Ronk, CEO of Century Pacific Investments in Newport, California.Huang, who controlled 43.3% of PDD shares, has reduced his stake to 29.4%, according to a June 30 regulatory filing. His fortune now stands at $30 billion.That excludes a $2.4 billion charitable holding that he shares with PDD’s founding team, and $7.9 billion that went to Pinduoduo Partnership, of which Huang and newly named CEO Lei Chen are members. The partnership will help fund science research and management incentives, according to a letter following Huang’s resignation. The wealth estimate also excludes $3.9 billion that people familiar with the matter said was transferred to an angel investor.PDD declined to comment on Huang’s holdings or net worth.Facing ChallengesHe will remain chairman and work on the company’s long-term strategy and corporate structure to help drive the future of the e-commerce giant, PDD said.“PDD is still facing some high-level challenges in product supply, relationship with brand merchants, logistics and payments,” said Shawn Yang, an analyst at Blue Lotus Capital Advisors. “Colin may want to focus more on these issues.”PDD’s success hinges on deals, which have become particularly popular with customers looking for bargains as the world’s second-largest economy slows. Most of its users come from smaller Chinese cities, and the app gives them extra discounts when they recommend a product through social networks and get friends to buy the same item.Fen Liu, a homemaker in Quanzhou, a provincial city in Fujian, said she accrued enough coupons with her friends’ help to reduce the price of a suitcase to zero.“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my suitcase arrive in the mail,” she said. “It’s made me a loyal Pinduoduo user ever since.”‘Bargain Hunters’While PDD’s aggressive price-reduction strategies have helped win over people with lower incomes, they may stifle the company’s efforts to attract wealthier consumers, according to Charlie Chen and Veronica Shen, analysts at China Renaissance Securities in Hong Kong.“PDD’s users are largely bargain hunters reluctant to buy large-ticket items,” they wrote in a June 29 note, adding that the company’s image remains a key obstacle to users spending more. “We believe PDD is working to change its low-price brand image -- but this could be costly.”That may require heavy marketing and hurt margins further despite a strong user-base foundation for future growth, the analysts said. And PDD’s management has offered no clear path to profitability.Last year, the company’s “10 Billion RMB Subsidies” campaign, which is ongoing, led to a $2 billion increase in sales and marketing expenses to $3.9 billion, and those costs have been at 90% to 120% of revenue for the past two quarters, China Renaissance said.For the nation’s June 18 shopping festival, PDD provided a subsidy program with no cap across different product categories to push spending and attract more users. Other fast-growing Chinese startups -- including rival Meituan Dianping, ride-hailing app DiDi Chuxing and Starbucks Corp. competitor Luckin Coffee Inc. -- have also adopted subsidies strategies to maintain customer loyalty.Huang, 40, grew up in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where Alibaba has its headquarters. After receiving a degree at Zhejiang University, he went to the University of Wisconsin for a master’s in computer science. He began his career at Google in 2004 as a software engineer and returned to China in 2006 to help establish its operations in the country.He then became a serial entrepreneur. He started his first company in 2007, an e-commerce website called Ouku.com that he sold three years later after realizing it was too similar to thousands of others. He then launched Leqi, which helped companies market their services on websites like Alibaba’s Taobao or JD.com Inc., and a gaming firm that let users play on Tencent’s messaging app WeChat. Both took off and Huang found himself “financially free,” according to a 2017 interview.After getting an ear infection, he decided to retire in 2013 at age 33. But following a year of pondering what to do with his life -- he contemplated starting a hedge fund and moving to the U.S. -- he came up with the idea of combining e-commerce and social media. At the time, Alibaba dominated the online business, and WeChat became a must-have application on smartphones in China.The tables have turned since. In 2018, Alibaba launched a PDD-style app in an attempt to lure smaller-town users with bargains. It came months before Huang took his company public in New York, raising $1.63 billion in its July 2018 initial public offering. Since then, PDD has surged 389%, while Alibaba has gained just 13%.In 2017, Huang had said he was unlikely to spend the rest of his life at PDD. While he’s still chairman of the company, he now wants to give more responsibility to younger colleagues to keep the entrepreneurial spirit as PDD matures, he wrote in a letter to employees.“We envision Pinduoduo to be an organization that creates value for the public rather than being a showoff trophy for a few or carry too much personal color,” Huang said. “This will allow Pinduoduo to continually evolve with or without us one day.”(Updates PDD, Alibaba moves in 22nd paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected Fen Liu’s location.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.