Huang was born in 1980 to factory worker parents on the outskirts of Hangzhou, a city in China's eastern province of Zhejiang. It's also where Alibaba is based.Huang has detailed some aspects of his life in a now-suspended Medium blog.In one post, he wrote that he went to an ordinary elementary school, but after he won a prize in a math Olympiad his teacher asked him to take an admission test for the highly selective Hangzhou Foreign Language School (HFLS). He gained a place, but initially didn't want to go as he thought the school focused on foreign languages. I wanted to go to a school strong in Math, Physics and Chemistry, wrote Huang. Later our principal called me over and convinced me to go. In retrospect, [thank] goodness that I chose to go to HFLS.His secondary school was renowned for its liberal approach. We were exposed to the western culture and influence much earlier, deeper and to a greater extent. A lot of us are more liberal than our peers in other schools, Huang said. At 18, Huang started studying computer science at the prestigious Zhejiang University. In his freshman year, he was selected as a fellow at the Melton Foundation, established by VeriFone founder Bill Melton. The foundation selected young students from emerging regions around the globe. Each fellow was given a computer and internet data so they could browse the web and message other fellows. They could also travel to a member country each year. Huang credits this experience for giving him a more international mindset than most people in China. Although Huang feels very lucky about how he was educated and the opportunities he enjoyed, describing himself as a phoenix soaring out of a chicken coop, he has one major regret. I was too goal-oriented and wasted too much time striving to be number one in class and a good student, wrote Huang. He added that he wished he'd spent more time being rebellious, naughty, and purely enjoying youth.Huang received his first salary as a Microsoft intern and did stints at Microsoft Beijing and the Redmond, Washington office (Huang noted that he was paid far more in the Redmond office).But he didn't choose to stay after his graduation. A mentor, who Huang did not name when describing the event in a blog post, told him to look at a company called Google. If he joined Google, the mentor said, he should stay at least three years because one or two was not enough to rise to an important position. Huang graduated with a master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2004, and landed his first full-time job at Google. He was a software engineer then product manager. At the time, Google was preparing to enter China, and Huang became part of the firm's landing team. He heeded his mentor's advice and stayed for three years. Google floated on August 19, 2004, raising over $1.9 billion. Huang had joined just six months earlier. He recalls this heady time. The operating profits and the number of [employees] grew rapidly, he said. His bank balance suddenly grew a lot too. Huang didn't realise how lucky he was at Google until he left. It was not until three or four years after I left Google, I started to realize how rare it was to come across and join a company like Google at the time. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (or at least once in ten or twenty years) and I was extremely lucky. At Google, Huang saw how challenging it was for foreign tech companies to compete with local Chinese businesses.Huang notes that despite Google's big-brand name, it struggled to recruitment China's top talents. Contrary to what it seems, forming a team with strong fighting power is actually much more difficult for international companies than for local Chinese companies, he wrote in one post. But he singled out Google's management for praise, comparing their impact to China's reform and opening-up era of economic liberalization in the 1980s. Google was encouraging grassroots innovation, daring to try, highly concentrated in central power and enjoying the institutional advantage of focusing resources on a few big things. After resigning from Google in 2007, Huang started ecommerce site Oukou, which sold consumer electronics and home appliances. He sold the venture three years later in 2010, before starting his second company, Leqi, which helped foreign brands market their online stores on Chinese ecommerce platforms such as Tmall and JD.com. His third venture was gaming studio Xunmeng, which created web-based role-playing games, often featuring scantily clad female characters. The ecommerce space was dominated by Alibaba and JD.com when Huang launched Pinduoduo in 2015. But having gained experience in both ecommerce and games, the serial entrepreneur believed he could find success by gamifying online shopping.Drawing on his experience in games, Huang has turned Pinduoduo into a gamified shopping app. Buyers can water a virtual mango tree while they shop — if the tree is tended enough days in a row, users are sent a free box of mangoes. This encourages daily visits to the app. As Huang wrote in the company's IPO prospectus, Pinduoduo is like a combination of Costco and Disneyland. As well as subsidies on orders, Pinduoduo offers users cash rewards for playing a game that involves bringing others to the platform. His approach has drawn masses of buyers, and, in turn, sellers, who pay for advertising, which is key to the company's business model and generates more revenue than sales. Analysts worry that Pinduoduo cannot sustain its growth and move beyond low-priced, low-quality goods. The company has done well in China's lower-tier cities, which often have many millions of people, but in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing, Pinduoduo struggles against rivals JD and Alibaba.As a child, Huang would go with his grandfather to worship Buddha, burning offerings of paper ingots and leaving food. In middle school, he learned that Buddhism is neither the wind moving nor the flag moving, but that it is our heart moving, he wrote in a blog post. When he was an adult, Huang visited the Fo Guang Shan monastery in Taiwan, a famous pilgrimage site for devotees of Master Hsing Yun, a Buddhist monk and founder of the Fo Guang Shan religious movement. Huang says he is a non-Buddhist, but the religion has clearly left a mark. Referring to his Google days, he noted how money could change people overnight. As Buddhism mentioned, how much money one can get is a corresponding virtuous reward. It's not necessarily a good thing to get a big fortune without enough virtue, he wrote on his blog. He said some early Google staff had too much money, lost incentives to work and started to look for fun and new careers. These people potentially wasted their most precious years, he wrote.Many entrepreneurs might fantasize about ringing the opening bell on Wall Street for their company's public trading debut, but Huang preferred to stay in China. Pinduoduo started trading on the Nasdaq on July 26, 2018, but the founder remained in Shanghai, for a simultaneous bell-ringing ceremony with investors and customers.Speaking to Chinese media on the day, Huang said he wanted to let customers take part, but it might have been a bit of a hassle to arrange visas for them all to travel to the US. Isn't it better that consumers, investors, all of us myself included, be here? He tends to avoid long-haul travel to prevent a recurring ear infection, he added.Pinduoduo is now a household name in China and a true Alibaba rival — but it doesn't turn a profit. It regularly accrues huge losses, the result of lavish promotions to attract customers. For example, Apple iPhones and computers are often cheaper on Pinduoduo than in Apple stores. In May 2019, it famously spent RMB 10 billion ($1.4bn) on a marketing campaign that lowered the price on brand-name products, in an attempt to boost sales and retain customers. Alibaba soon launched a similar campaign.Huang stepped down as chief executive of Pinduoduo on July 1 and, according to the Financial Times, reduced his personal stake in the firm by around $14.3 billion. He still owns 29.4% of the company, according to an SEC filing.Chen Lei, a founding employee and Pinduoduo's chief technology officer, has taken over the top job.Huang will remain chairman, and will formulate a long-term strategy for his company.