The Shanda name has long been associated with Chen. In 1999, the Shang-hai native founded Shanda Interactive Entertainment, a pioneer in China’s online gaming business. In 2004, Chen took Shanda Interactive public on the Nasdaq. Thanks to the successful IPO of SNDA, Shanda Interactive became the largest video game company in the world’s second-largest online market (after the US). According to the Shanda Group website, the company has had three subsidiaries listed on the Nasdaq and a fourth on the Kosdaq. In 2012, Chen took SNDA private. He also relocated his corporate headquarters from China to Singapore and established Shanda World as his primary vehicle for investments, including real estate.
Chen’s capitalist spirit is not limited to securities. In 2019, Robb Van Pelt of Mason Morse Ranch Company listed Bull Springs Skyline Forest, a 32,995-acre block of Shanda’s former Crown Pacific holdings that borders the Deschutes National Forest in Central Oregon. Located just minutes west of the burgeoning mountain town of Bend, the contiguous tract has long been recognized as a prime development opportunity, as well as a top conservation priority. Managed for logging production for more than a century, Bull Springs is planted primarily in Ponderosa pine and includes 71,905 thousand board feet (MBF) of merchantable timber. Originally priced at $127 million ($3,800 per acre), the price of Bull Springs was subsequently reduced to $95 million ($2,800 per acre). A successful sale at anywhere near the current price of the 51-square-mile listing would recoup Chen’s entire expenditure for all 300 square miles of the Crown Pacific timberlands.
In addition to his Oregon holdings, Chen owns approximately 500,000 acres of timberland in Ontario, Canada. He has also purchased several landmark US properties. In 2018, he and his wife paid $39 million for the Vanderbilt Mansion on East 69th Street in Manhattan. Three years later, the Seeley Mudd Estate in the Los Angeles suburb of San Marino sold for $25 million to unnamed buyers who were later identified as Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen. Built in 1934, the American Colonial-style mansion had served as the official residence of the presidents of the University of Southern California (USC) for more than four decades. From the Seeley Mudd Estate, the Chens have convenient access to the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech. They funded the institute with a $115 million charitable donation that included the construction of a three-story, 150,000 square-foot facility on the Caltech campus that was dedicated in 2021.