On December 8 in the year 1947, the most famous anti-communist tycoon was born in Guangdong, China. His name is Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, the founder of Giordano fashion chain and Next Media (now Next Digital).
Jimmy Lai was the son of a wealthy couple who lost their properties during the communist takeover of China. In 1960, they paid smugglers to bring Jimmy to Hong Kong. There, the young Jimmy found work in a knitwear factory for $8 a month. He learned English through the years and soon, he became a clerk in a trading company.
In 1975, Jimmy Lai and a partner purchased a bankrupt garment factory. In 1981, he opened the first Giordano fashion store in Hong Kong. Soon, the store branched out to the mainland and other cities all over Asia. When the Chinese Authorities ordered a military crackdown on democracy protesters in what is now known as 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, he distributed Giordano T-shirts with emblazoned messages against the communist leadership. After the event, the government began closing stores own by Giordano. In 1996, he sold the business entirely.
In 1990, Jimmy started publishing Next Magazine. Five years later, he organized Apple Daily, a Hong Kong newspaper that became well-known for its advocacy of democracy in Hong Kong and China. Because of its hard-hitting editorials and coverage of sensational government investigations, it captured a wide section of Hong Kong’s reading public and became one of the leading newspapers of the territory. Subsequently, he set up Next Media as a holding company for his magazines and newspaper business. It was later renamed as Next Digital Ltd to better reflect its ambition to become an online news organization. It is now the largest media company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
In 2017, Next Digital sold its magazines for HK$500 million to fund expansion of its digital contents.
Jimmy Lai has four children with his wife Teresa. His media organization has presence in Taiwan since 2001.