After he graduated from the Department of Mathematics at Zhejiang University, he did his postgraduate study in the Department of Software Engineering at Shenzhen University.
Soon after that, he quit his uninspiring civil servant job in Anhui Province, moved back to Shenzhen, and ventured into the business world. With only 4000 yuan start-up money and no business connections, he plunged into software development. Within a few months, through hard work and good advertising strategies, he made a fortune by selling the M-6401 word processing software that he himself had developed. Shi was only 27 years old at the time.
In the following year, he founded the Giant New Tech Group. He named the company ‘giant’ hoping someday to turn it into China’s IBM and a great computer company of the East. Two years later, the company was moved from Shenzhen to Zhuhai in Guangdong Province. It was renamed Zhuhai Giant Hi-Tech Group and continued its successful streak by selling a series of word processing software. As a result of software development and good marketing, the company’s revenue grew rapidly. By the end of 1992, the Giant Company had established eight branch offices and made a net profit of 35 million yuan. In 1993, Shi was acclaimed as an Outstanding Scientific Entrepreneur of Guangdong Province. In 1994, he was selected as one of the Top Ten Reform Celebrities in China. In 1995, Forbes ranked him as the eighth richest person in China.
In the meantime, however, growing nationwide fame, the entry into the competitive Chinese market of many reputable international computer companies and the declara- tion of bankruptcy in 1992 by the renounced Wang An Company, a computer company headquartered in Massachusetts specializing especially in word processing, all made Shi Yuzhu rethink the future of the company. He initiated new business strategies essentially through diversifying the company’s activities. The company’s major new ventures were in real estate investment and healthcare products. The real estate venture failed as a result of a number of problems within the company including mismanagement, overexpansion and overinvestment. The planned construction of a 70-story skyscraper failed to materialize and the company fell into a grave financial crisis as it had borrowed money heavily from various places. By 1997, Shi Yuzhu had become a notorious financial failure and was even referred to as China’s number-one debtor as a result of the massive debt his company had incurred. Over the next few years, he seemed to disappear from the public scene. Meanwhile, he quietly led a small group of researchers working on a new health supplement in Shanghai.
Thus, in the early 2000s, Shi re-entered the business community, launching onto the market Nao Bai Jin (platinum gold), a melatonin health product. Shi started a vigorous television campaign, proclaiming the brand as something pertaining to a miracle substance and essential to facilitate sleep, maintain good health, and prolong life. Using catchy phrases, the advertising campaign proclaimed Nao Bai Jin as the most desirable gift to one’s parents. The highly effective (if somewhat controversial) television ads for the brand helped build a solid sales base and generated billions of yuan for Shi and his company. The spectacular sales of Nao Bai Jin became one of the great growth and marketing stories. Shi Yuzhu was successful once again.
Gradually as television viewers experienced fatigue with the bombardment of Shi’s advertisement, they also began to express doubts about the miraculous effects of the health products as proclaimed by Shi Yuzhu’s company. Consequently, sales started to fall. Shi made a surprise move once again, selling the business and then launching an online game, Zhengtu, in 2004. Over the next few years, the multiplayer online game attracted over one million players, became one of the largest gaming sites in China, and generated huge revenue for Shi’s company. Shi came under fire again for his marketing strategies as the company ran TV adverts despite the official ban on video game commercials on TV and also, among other things, for Zhengtu’s alleged violent content.