Meet Terry Gou, the 72-year-old billionaire founder of a key Apple supplier who now wants to be the president of Taiwan

The founder of tech giant Foxconn, Terry Gou attends a campaign rally in Kaohsiung on May 7, 2023.

Jameson Wu/AFP/Getty Images

  • Foxconn founder Terry Gou announced his bid for Taiwan’s presidency on Monday.
  • He founded Foxconn in 1974 with a $7,500 loan and grew it into a global contract manufacturer behemoth.
  • Gou is the fourth and only independent candidate in the presidential election scheduled for January 2024.

Foxconn founder Terry Gou — who is worth nearly $7 billion — announced his bid for Taiwan’s presidency on Monday

Terry Gou, Foxconn founder announces bid for Taiwan presidency during a press event in Taipei, Taiwan August 28, 2023.

Ann Wang/Reuters

Foxconn founder Terry Gou has announced his bid to run for Taiwan’s presidential election.

On Monday, the business magnate vowed to unite the opposition and not let Taiwan become “the next Ukraine,” referring to Russia’s invasion of the country. China claims self-ruled Taiwan as its territory and has been ramping up military drills around the island. 

Gou is positioning himself as “a representative of the mainstream consensus” and counting on his extensive business experience in the contest.

“I am the only entrepreneur with the practical management skills. I am an entrepreneur with nearly five decades of practical experience — who else is better suited to lead Taiwan’s political sphere?” Gou said, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. 

His candidacy not a done deal. Taiwanese law requires Gou to garner signatures of at least 1.5% of the electorate — that’s about 290,000 signatures — within 45 days of his formal application to run as an independent candidate.

Gou is the fourth — and only independent so far — candidate to join Taiwan’s 2024 presidential race.

Here’s what to know about Gou, the 72-year-old founder of Foxconn, one of the world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturers and Apple’s key iPhone maker.

Gou did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

Gou’s counting on Foxconn’s elite clientele to help keep Beijing at bay

Foxconn founder Terry Gou said Beijing wouldn’t be able to use his vast empire to influence him.

Ann Wang/Reuters

Foxconn is a huge business with over 800,000 shareholders, including major pension funds. It also counts tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Tesla, and Nvidia in its client list.

Earlier this month, Foxconn posted 1.3 trillion New Taiwan Dollars, or $41 billion in second-quarter revenue, down 14% from a year ago. It’s unclear how much of Foxconn’s revenue is generated from the Wall Street giant clients Gou mentioned.

And Gou is counting on his shareholders and powerful clients to keep Beijing at a distance.

On Monday, when asked about Beijing’s potential retaliation against Foxconn should Gou run for president, he said it would only hurt China’s reputation and interests if it confiscated the company’s assets.

“If the Chinese Communist Party dares to do this, which country, which investment fund, which company would dare to invest in China?” he said. 

“How would the Chinese Communist Party explain to major global brands?” he added. “Besides, its economy is terrible now.”

Gou also said Beijing wouldn’t be able to use his vast empire to influence him. 

“I will not be threatened,” he said.

Gou founded Foxconn in 1974 with a $7,500 loan from his mother

Terry Gou, who is now worth nearly $7 billion, is a classic rages-to-riches story.


Gou’s founding of Foxconn — also known as Hon Hai Technology Group — is a classic rags-to-riches story.

Gou was born in Taipei to parents who fled mainland China a year earlier following the Chinese Civil War. His father was a police officer in Taiwan and the family stayed in a single room in a temple for the next 11 years.

“We would eat dinner, clear away the table, and sleep in the same spot,” Gou recalled, per Time magazine in 2019.

Gou became a shipping clerk for three years after attending naval college and started Foxconn at the age of 23 with a $7,500 loan from his mother. He used the money to buy plastic molding machines and started the company with just 10 employees. 

Today, Gou is worth nearly $7 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. 

Gou’s fortune has gained 7% so far this year, shaking off any negativity from the riots over draconian COVID-19 measures at its largest factory in China in November last year. 

In the 1980s, Gou peddled his goods by going door-to-door in the US

Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Foxconn in 2017.

Eason Lam/Reuters

Foxconn started making electronic parts in the 1980s. 

Gou embarked on an 11-month tour of the US in the same decade where he peddled his goods door-to-door at various companies.

His tour of 32 US states at the time took him to an IBM facility in North Carolina, where he managed to secure an order after three days.

In 1988, Gou set up Foxconn’s first factory outside Taiwan in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen where he provided housing for workers and free breakfasts of one egg for each employee.

In 1991, Gou took Foxconn public on the Taiwan Stock Exchange to fund the company’s expansion plans.

Foxconn started manufacturing and shipping desktop computer chassis to IBM, HP, and Apple in the mid-1990s.

Now, Foxconn has seven campuses in China and is the largest private employer in the country with over 1 million employees. 

Gou previously announced he was running in the 2020 election

Terry Gou, the founder of major Apple supplier Foxconn and a contender to be Taiwan’s next president, prays before a campaign rally event

Ann Wang/Reuters

Gou’s 2024 bid isn’t his first attempt to secure Taiwan’s top job.

In 2019, Gou announced he was running for Taiwan’s presidency because Mazu, a sea goddess, had told him to do so in a dream.

Gou said Mazu had told him: “Now you have to step up and make even more efforts for all the Mazu temples and all people of Taiwan.”

“I will definitely respect and follow Mazu’s will,” he said at the time.

Gou even stepped down as the chairman of Foxconn to join the presidential race at the time.

However, he dropped out of the race after losing the presidential nomination from Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, or KMT.  

Gou did not win KMT’s nomination again earlier this year, as the party nominated Hou Yu-ih, who is the mayor of New Taipei City. The current frontrunner is Taiwanese Vice President William Lai Ching-te from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.

On the personal front, Gou has been married twice. 

Serena Lin, his first wife, died in 2005. They had two children together, but both appear to have little interest in running Foxconn.

Gou’s eldest son, Jeff, is chairman at the Syntrend Creative Park, a mall in Taiwan. He is also an entrepreneur in startups focusing on the entertainment and creative industries.

His eldest daughter, Kuo Hsiao-ling, heads Gou’s Yonglin Foundation, which is focused on healthcare and education.

Gou married his second wife, Delia Tseng, a dance instructor in 2008. They have one son and two daughters — the eldest is 13 years old.

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Huileng Tan