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|Occupation||Founder and Chairman, ]
Lai launched Taiwan editions of Next Magazine in 2001 and Apple Daily in 2003, taking on heavily established rivals who made considerable effort to thwart him. Rival publishers pressed advertisers to boycott and distributors not to undertake home delivery. His Taiwan offices were vandalised on numerous occasions, but as the publications grew to have the largest readership in their category, the advertising boycotts ended.
In October 2006, Lai launched (Shuang Bao in mandarin), a free daily newspaper targeting Taipei commuters. The company also launched in Taiwan.
In building Taiwan's most popular newspaper, Apple Daily, and magazine, Next Magazine, Lai's racy publications have had a great impact on the island's hitherto staid media culture.
During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Lai started the Internet-based grocery retailer which offered home delivery service, adMart. It expanded its product scope beyond groceries to include electronics and office supplies, but was shut down after losing between $100 and $150 million. Lai attributed this business failure to overconfidence and the lack of a viable business strategy. Admart.Asia ( a popular free classifieds website covering Asia, is now no longer associated with Lai.
In 2011, NextMedia reportedly sold 70% stake of NextMedia's subsidiary Colored World Holdings (CWH, incorporated in British Virgin Islands) to Sum Tat Ventures (STV, incorporated in British Virgin Islands), a private company 100% owned by Jimmy Lai. CWH was estimated to have net asset value of US$6.1 million. STV paid US$100 million in cash for 70% stake of CWH. In 2013, STV paid another US$20 million in cash for the remaining 30% stake of CWH. CWH itself had its assets sold in 2011, and ceased operation in 2011. Thus, in total, STV paid US$120 million in cash for CWH. Very little information is available for STV. However, on Jimmy Lai's Form 3B disclosure form, STV is listed as having the same correspondence address as NextMedia, at 1/F., 8 Chun Ying Street, Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate, Tsueng Kwan O, NT, Hong Kong. The purchase of CWH was largely seen as a transfer of cash from Lai to NextMedia to offset NextMedia's continual losses during that time, and to boost assets as collateral for NextMedia to obtain additional loans in the future. However, as US$120 million is approximately 1/10th of Lai's networth, some speculate real liquidity of Lai's personal assets, and whether Lai made other loan guarantees to obtain such an amount.
Near end of 2013, Lai spent approximately US$73 million (or NT$2.3 Billion) to purchase 2% stake (~17 million shares) in Taiwanese electronics manufacturer HTC.
Lai's support for Occupy Central and pro-democracy movements has proved controversial with the Beijing regime. On 13 December 2014, Lai was arrested, along with other pro-democratic leaders, during the clearance of the Admiralty protest site of the Umbrella movement. The following day, Lai announced he would step down as head of Next Media "so as to spend more time with his family and further pursue his personal interests".
Among other attacks, he has had machetes, axes and threatening messages left in his driveway, has been rammed by a car and has had his home firebombed several times (most recently in 2015). Some suspect this is due to the activist, pro-democracy nature of his media outlets, which the Chinese government disapproves of. Next Media spokesman Mark Simon claims that "This is a continual effort to intimidate the press in Hong Kong. This is raw and pure intimidation." Though the attack was denounced by Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice, pro-democracy activists feel that the Hong Kong police and the government (which was Chinese-controlled since the handover in 1997) do not always follow up on acts against Apple Daily or the democracy movement, and that culprits are rarely found.
During the early hours of 12 January 2015, two masked men hurled petrol bombs at Lai's home on Kadoorie Avenue in Kowloon Tong. At the same time, a petrol bomb was thrown at the headquarters in Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate. The fires were extinguished by security guards. The perpetrators fled and two cars used in the attacks were found torched in Shek Kip Mei and Cheung Sha Wan. The crimes were denounced as an "attack on press freedom".