Li Ka-shing built Hong Kong’s biggest fortune on old-fashioned real estate and infrastructure. It’s a bet on technology that’s paying off in the current crisis.
Li, called “Superman” by his admirers, was an early investor in Zoom Video Communications Inc. and owns about 8.6% of the San Jose-based company, according to regulatory filings. The value of Li’s stake has surged 80% this year to $3 billion — the only public holding of his tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to record a gain. His overall fortune is down about $4.6 billion to $25.7 billion this year after Hong Kong was hit by protests and the coronavirus pandemic.
The 91-year-old owns Zoom through three investment vehicles, according to the filings. Horizons Ventures, which manages Li’s venture investments, led a $6.5 million series B round funding in the video conferencing company in 2013 and participated in a $30 million series C round two years later, according to the company’s website. His stake was worth about $850 million when Zoom started publicly trading in the U.S. in April 2019.
The company’s teleconferencing software has become an essential tool for millions at a time when much of the world is socially distancing to blunt the toll of the Covid-19 virus. Zoom’s share price has soared as the homebound use it for everything from work conferences to Passover meals to happy hours, though it has recently given back some of those gains over privacy concerns.
Li isn’t the only person benefiting from the Zoom boom. Founder Eric Yuan is now worth $6.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg ranking. Former Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang was another early investor. David Bonderman’s family office, Wildcat Capital Management, jumped in at the end of last year, regulatory filings show, before Zoom stock skyrocketed.
Some of Li’s other companies are helping boost Zoom’s user base. 3 Hong Kong, the mobile arm of his Hutchison Telecommunications, donated backpacks that included free “Zoom Classrooms” to hundreds of Hong Kong schools, the company said in a March 18 statement.