Joseph Tsai

Joseph Chung-Hsin Tsai[2] (Chinese: 蔡崇信; born January 1964)[3] is a Taiwanese-Hong Kong-Canadian billionaire businessman and philanthropist.[4][5][6] He is a co-founder and executive vice chairman of Chinese multinational technology company Alibaba Group. Born in Taiwan and educated in the U.S., he is a naturalized citizen of Canada.[7] He owns the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and has interests in several other professional sports franchises.

Joe Tsai
Joe Tsai.jpg
Tsai Chung-hsin

January 1964 (age 57)
  • Canada
EducationYale University (BA, JD)
OccupationCo-Founder and Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group
Net worthUS$13.1 billion (December 2020)[1]
Spouse(s)Clara Wu
Chinese name

Early life, family, and educationEdit

Joseph Tsai was born in Taipei, Taiwan to Paul C. Tsai (Chinese: 蔡中曾, d. 4 May 2013),[8] a second-generation lawyer, and Ruby Tsai. He has three younger siblings, Eva, Vivian, and Benjamin.[9][10] The Tsai family escaped to Taiwan as part of the Kuomintang exodus after the Chinese Communist Party took over control of mainland China in 1949. At age 13, Tsai was sent to the U.S. to attend the Lawrenceville School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, where he played both lacrosse and football (inside linebacker) and was a member of the Cleve House.[3][11] Tsai enrolled at his father's alma mater, Yale University. He played for the Yale varsity lacrosse team for four years, and has been a consistent supporter of the team.

Tsai earned a B.A. in Economics and East Asian studies from Yale College in 1986. In 1990, he earned a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was articles editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review.[12][1]


Tsai became a tax associate at the white-shoe law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell after graduation[13] and was admitted as an attorney to the New York bar on 6 May 1991.[14] After three years at the law firm, he switched to private equity and joined Rosecliff, Inc., a small management buyout firm based in New York, as vice president and general counsel. He left for Hong Kong in 1995 to join Investor AB, where he was responsible for its Asian private equity investments.[15]

It was in this role that he first met Jack Ma in 1999 in Hangzhou after being introduced by a friend who was trying to sell his own company to Ma. Tsai was impressed with Ma's idea to create an international import and export marketplace, as well as his charismatic personality, but it was Ma's followers and their energy and enthusiasm that ultimately convinced Tsai.[16] Later that year he quit the $700,000-a-year job at Investor AB and offered to join Ma as a member of the founding team for almost nothing. At the time each of Alibaba's 18 co-founders—of which Tsai was the only Western-educated member—accepted a salary of only $600 a year. He served as chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and founding board member. He single-handedly established Alibaba's financial and legal structure, since no other member of the team had any experience in venture capital or law. In May 2013, he became Alibaba's executive vice chairman. He has become the second-largest individual shareholder of Alibaba after Ma.[17][15]

Sports ownershipEdit

In September 2019, Tsai became the owner of the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA and chairman of Barclays Center. He initially invested in the NBA team in October 2017, purchasing a 49% stake in the Nets from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov in a deal that valued the team at $2.3 billion, with the option to buy the remaining stake of the team no later than 2021.[18][19][20] Tsai exercised that option in August 2019, and at the same time, bought the Nets' arena from Prokhorov for nearly $1 billion in a separate deal.[21]

Tsai's ownership in the Nets includes the Long Island Nets of the NBA G League and the Nets Gaming Crew of the NBA 2K League. In January 2019, Tsai headed a group that bought the WNBA's New York Liberty from The Madison Square Garden Company.[22] He owns the San Diego Seals, a professional box lacrosse team in the National Lacrosse League (NLL).

He is also chairman of J Tsai Sports. Through that company, he has investments in the upstart field lacrosse league, the Premier Lacrosse League and several sports media and technology companies based in North America and Asia. Tsai made his investment in the Premier Lacrosse League in February 2019, along with The Chernin Group and The Raine Group, helping fund the new lacrosse league founded by lacrosse player Paul Rabil and his brother Mike Rabil.[23]

In March 2018 Tsai joined a Michael Rubin-led group to buy the Carolina Panthers.[24]

Tsai is also an investor in Major League Soccer franchise Los Angeles FC.[25][26]

Personal lifeEdit

Tsai holds Canadian and Hong Kong passports.[27] He is married to Clara Ming-Hua Wu, a granddaughter of Wu San-lien [zh], the first elected mayor of Taipei City.[28] Wu spent her childhood in Lawrence, Kansas and graduated from Lawrence High School. Wu also graduated from Stanford University, where she studied international relations, and has an MBA degree from Harvard Business School. She is an advisor for Taobao.[29] Tsai and Wu have three children.[30] They lived in Hong Kong for over a decade and now live in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, while he still spends much of his time in Hong Kong for business.[31][32] Wu is a member of The Bishop's School board of trustees.[33]


On 7 October 2019, Tsai weighed in after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, posted a tweet supporting protesters in Hong Kong.[34]

In an open letter to all NBA fans on his Facebook page, Tsai explained, with historical reference to foreign invasions of China, why Morey's tweet triggered strong negative sentiment in China.

Tsai said “I am going into all of this, because a student of history will understand that the Chinese psyche has heavy baggage when it comes to any threat, foreign or domestic, to carve up Chinese territories. When the topic of any separatist movement comes up, Chinese people feel a strong sense of shame and anger because of this history of foreign occupation.”

In his open letter, Tsai referred to Hong Kong protesters as part of a "separatist movement."[35] He wrote: "The one thing that is terribly misunderstood, and often ignored, by the western press and those critical of China is that 1.4 billion Chinese citizens stand united when it comes to the territorial integrity of China and the country’s sovereignty over her homeland. This issue is non-negotiable.”[36]


In March 2016, Tsai donated $30 million to his alma mater, Yale Law School, in honor of his father to support the continuing work of the Law School's China Center and renamed it Paul Tsai China Center.[37][38]

In May 2017, Tsai and his wife, through the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, made another donation to Yale for the construction, launch, and programs of the center and named it Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking.[39][40]

One month later, in June 2017, the Tsais, again through the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, made a donation to his high school, the Lawrenceville School, which was the single largest gift the school ever received.[41][42][43] Tsai is a member of Lawrenceville's board of trustees.[44]

In late March and early April 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tsais donated 2.6 million masks, 170,000 goggles and 2000 ventilators to New York.[45] On 20 April 2020, they donated $1.6 million of medical supplies to hospitals in San Diego.

In August 2020, the Tsais donated $50 million to social justice and economic equality initiatives to support BIPOC causes.[46]


In 2017, Tsai received the George H.W. Bush '48 Lifetime of Leadership Award from Yale University.[47] The award honors alumni athletes who, in their lives after Yale, have made significant leadership contributions in their worlds of governance, commerce, science and technology, education, public service, and the arts and media.


  1. ^ a b "Forbes profile: Joseph Tsai". Forbes. Retrieved 16 January 2020.
  2. ^ full name is given with NY State Unified Court System attorney registry, retrieved February 11, 2020
  3. ^ a b "Bloomberg Billionaires Index - Joseph Tsai". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  4. ^ Deb, Sopan; Yuan, Li (7 October 2019). "Nets Owner Joe Tsai Didn't Seem Political. Until Now". The New York Times.
  5. ^ "Joseph Tsai". 7 April 2020.
  6. ^ "forbes global list by country CANADA". 7 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Joseph Tsai". Forbes.
  8. ^ "Paul Tsai '54LLM, '57JSD - Obituaries - Yale Alumni Magazine". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  9. ^ "The Tsai Family - Giving to Mayo Clinic". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Lawrenceville Thanks Joe Tsai '82". 13 October 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  12. ^ "YLPR Masthead Issue 8.1" (PDF).
  13. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross. "The Man Behind Alibaba's Eventual I.P.O." The New York Times. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b staff, (26 July 2016). "Joe Tsai". CNBC. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  16. ^ Flannery, Russell. "Inside Alibaba: Vice Chairman Joe Tsai Opens Up About Working With Jack Ma And Jonathan Lu". Forbes. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  17. ^ "Chung Tsai: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Alibaba's Joe Tsai Purchases Brooklyn Nets in $2.3 Billion Deal". Bloomberg L.P. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Tsai deal close but not done, say Nets". 19 February 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  20. ^ Ozanian, Mike. "Alibaba's Joseph Tsai Reportedly Closes Deal For 49% Of Brooklyn Nets". Forbes. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  21. ^ reports, From NBA media. "Joseph Tsai to buy rest of Nets from Mikhail Prokhorov". Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  22. ^ "Nets minority owner Joseph Tsai buys WNBA's Liberty". Associated Press. 25 January 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  23. ^ Scott Soshnick (12 February 2019). "Rabil's Lacrosse League Gets Investment From Alibaba Billionaire". Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  24. ^ "Alibaba's Tsai Joins Rubin-Led Bid for NFL's Panthers". Bloomberg L.P. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Ownership". 10 March 2020.
  26. ^ Novy-Williams, Eben (10 October 2019). "LAFC, Target Ink First Sleeve Sponsorship in Major League Soccer". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
  27. ^ Woo, Stu (1 November 2019). "New Nets Owner Joe Tsai's Views on China Bring U.S. Backlash". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 31 December 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  28. ^ "How Tsai Went From Yale Lacrosse Fields to Alibaba Mega-Deals". Bloomberg. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  29. ^ "Clara Wu Tsai - Welcome to Bio-X". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  30. ^ "Alex Tsai - 2018 Women's Lacrosse Roster - Stanford University". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  31. ^ Acee, Kevin (27 October 2017). "Is Joe Tsai the man to Net another big-league team for San Diego?". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  32. ^ "Nets' incoming co-owner talks favorite players, long road ahead". New York Post. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  33. ^ "Members - The Bishop's School". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  34. ^ "Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai weighs in on Houston Rockets storm". South China Morning Post. 7 October 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  35. ^ "Joe Tsai, Brooklyn Nets owner and Alibaba co-founder, blasts NBA GM's pro-Hong Kong tweet". Fox Business. 7 October 2019.
  36. ^ "James Harden says 'we love China;' Nets owner Joe Tsai weighs in on Morey tweet". NBC Sport. 7 October 2019.
  37. ^ "China Center Receives $30 Million Gift in Honor of Dr. Paul Tsai". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  38. ^ "Law school receives $30 million donation to rename China Center". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  39. ^ "Yale announces Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking". 18 May 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  40. ^ "Homepage". Yale Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  41. ^ "Lawrenceville School Receives Major Gift to Launch Strategic Campus Initiatives". 21 June 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  42. ^ "Lawrenceville School Alum Makes Single Largest Donation In School's History". 22 June 2017. Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  43. ^ "Lawrenceville School receives largest gift in 207-year history". Planet Princeton. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  44. ^ "Governance - The Lawrenceville School - Private Boarding & Day School - The Lawrenceville School". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  45. ^ Business, Cristina Alesci and Shannon Liao, CNN. "Billionaire Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai donates ventilators and masks to New York". CNN. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  46. ^ Lucking, Liz. "Joe Tsai and Clara Wu Tsai Donate $50 Million to Social Justice and Economic Equality for BIPOC". Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  47. ^ "Bush Lifetime Of Leadership Awards Presented At Blue Leadership Ball". Yale University. Retrieved 14 October 2019.