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Hu Zhong, first generation paperboy turned CEO, dies aged 41

AXL100809papertiger.jpg
Hu Zhong. Image from People Net via Sohu

Paper Tiger Limited founder Hu Zhong (胡忠) was stabbed to death in a car park on July 9. He was CEO of the newspaper and magazine distribution company that later developed malls and websites for online book and magazine shopping as well as other similar services.

The Beijing News called him a first generation paperboy (中国第一代报童) and his death is suspected to be revenge-motivated, though the police are still investigating. The Beijing News ran an obituary on Sunday August 8, the first part is translated below:

Beijing Paper Tiger Limited CEO dead from stabbing

by The Beijing News

Hu Zhong was born in Hunan, later he moved to Jiangxi with his family. His family remember him doing business from home at a young age, and during the summer holidays he would ride his bike selling popsicles, recycle beer bottles, and make money to go to school.

In 1989, Hu Zhong was admitted to the vocal music department of the Minzu University of China from Guangxi. Because he came from a poor background, not long after entering university, through a friend’s introduction Hu Zhong started working at the distribution department of China Business Media Corporation Limited (中国经营报社). Working part-time and studying part-time, he became a paper-delivery boy.
  
For a very long time, Hu Zhong was busy tying stacks of newspapers, gluing envelopes, and getting up at 3 every morning, riding his 2/8 men's bicycle, taking newspapers in the wind and rain to newspaper stands.
  
His family members remember that at the time he rented a small pingfang, which was 4 to 5 square meters and roomed a few people. He delivered newspapers everyday, and each stack weighed 11kg. On each bicycle there would be 10 stacks, and these would be delivered throughout Beijing. After a few years, Hu Zhong was contracted by the distribution department of Life Style magazine (精品购物指南). He organized more university students, and established his “Hu-style army.”

At the time, traditional distribution was monopolized by the State Post Office. Hu Zhong liked to observe and think, and quickly he mastered the basic set of skills needed for distribution. He rode his bicycle and found every newspaper stall in Beijing, drew regional maps and appointed a different person to each district.

Hu Zhong’s brother-in-law Cao Zhangwu (曹章武) claimed that at the time Hu Zhong could shout out the name of every newspaper stand owner, and knew like the back of his hand what papers did well where, and which readers liked what news. “Hu Zhong had broken many records,” said Cao Zhangwu. His team would get mature over time. And in 1999, after ten years of struggling, left Life Style and used the first bucket of gold he had earned to found Paper Tiger.

He was cremated at Beijing's Babaoshan (八宝山) cemetery.

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