Sea co-founder Forrest Li lost nearly US$18 billion in stock plunge

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In September last year, Forrest Li, co-founder of Shopee’s parent company Sea, overtook Li Xiting to become the richest man in Singapore with a net worth of $20.2 billion.

He retained that status until just a few months ago with his $22 billion fortune. Now, she no longer makes the cut to be one of the 500 richest people in the world.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his net worth is now valued at just US$4.7 billion.

It has become one of the biggest losers in a big market crash. In addition, the closure of its main e-commerce operation in India and disappointing earnings have plunged the company’s US warehouse receipts by more than 80 percent from a peak in October.

At one point, Sea was touted as the most valuable company in Southeast Asia as it deepens its foray into fintech beyond gaming and e-commerce.

shopee sea ltd
Shopee, the e-commerce arm of Sea Ltd / Image Credit: Reuters

The coming year will pose several challenges for the company. Like other tech companies that skyrocketed when the COVID-19 pandemic began, Sea is now facing difficulties due to rising interest rates and tensions due to the war in Ukraine.

Sea is also facing renewed competition from rival companies including Alibaba, and more people are switching from online to offline shopping as pandemic restrictions ease.

Sea is scheduled to report first-quarter earnings soon and is expected to post a record loss of more than $740 million, according to the median estimate of analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

Sea’s net loss had already widened in the last three months of last year as the company aggressively expanded.

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Sea’s valuation collapse prompted Li to contact his employees in early March. In a 900-word internal memo, he told them not to fear and that while falling is painful, “this is short-term pain that we have to endure to truly maximize our long-term potential.”

Many tech entrepreneurs have also lost their fortunes.

In addition to Li, many tech entrepreneurs who saw their wealth rise from pandemic-induced growth are being hit hard by the market sell-off.

Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom Video Communications, has lost $4.4 billion in wealth this year, while the fortune of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the world’s second-richest person, has shrunk by nearly $58 billion.

(L to R) Forrest Li, Gang Ye and David Chen / Image Credit: Sea

The other two co-founders of the company are not spared either. Gang Ye has lost $4.3 billion in wealth this year, while David Chen is no longer a billionaire.

Previously, the three founders, who hail from China, were listed in the top half of Forbes’s Singapore’s Richest 2021 list.

Featured Image Credit: Sea Ltd


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