Alibaba's Jack Ma: All you need to know about the richest man in China

Alibaba's Jack Ma: All you need to know about the richest man in China

At the ‘Asian Awards’ ceremony held in 2015, Jack Ma was presented with the ‘Entrepreneur of the year’ award. Photograph: (Zee News Network)

WION Delhi, India May 17, 2017, 06.26 PM (IST)

Jack Ma

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba is now the richest man in China, according to Forbes. Alibaba the e-commerce giant of China has risen to the top in less than two decades - in fact, Ma started the company in 1999 few years after Amazon. Jeff Bezos the founder of Amazon considers Alibaba as his only nemesis, Ma for his part has stuck to his grown mantra and even opened a branch in the US and topped it with an IPO which was a smashing success at the Nasdaq.

We chronicle the explosive rise of Jack Ma and Alibaba and try to dissect their success formula.  


Jack Ma

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba is now the richest man in China, according to Forbes. Alibaba the e-commerce giant of China has risen to the top in less than two decades - in fact, Ma started the company in 1999 few years after Amazon. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos considers Alibaba as his only nemesis, Ma for his part has stuck to his grown mantra and even opened a branch in the US and topped it with an IPO which was a smashing success at the Nasdaq.

We chronicle the explosive rise of Jack Ma and Alibaba.   


 


PRESENT

According to Forbes, Jack’s net worth was estimated to be around $27 billion, as of 2015

The company's $150-billion IPO was the largest offering for a US-listed company in the history of the New York Stock Exchange.

Alibaba employees celebrated the achievement by throwing a big party at the company's Hangzhou headquarters.
One employee considered the event a glorifying opportunity to propose.
Ma told employees at a press conference that he hopes they use their newfound wealth to become "a batch of genuinely noble people, a batch of people who are able to help others, and who are kind and happy."


FACTS

At the World Economic Forum in 2016, Jack Ma disclosed he has been rejected from Harvard—ten times!

He has maintained a fun environment at the workplace. When Alibaba first became profitable, Ma gave each employee a can of Silly String (aerosol party string) to go celebrate.

In the early 2000s, when the company made the decision to launch e-commerce website Taobao, he had his team do handstands during breaks to boost their energy levels.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Ma acknowledged that he knew Alibaba had made it big when another customer offered to pay his restaurant bill. "I’m your customer of Alibaba group, I made a lot of money and I know you don’t make any money," said the customer. "I’ll pay the bill for you."

Ma stepped down from his post as CEO in 2013, staying on as executive chairman. Alibaba went public September 19 2014. "Today what we got is not money. What we got is the trust from the people," Ma told CNBC.

Even though he is the wealthiest man of the most populous country of the world, he has made very few flashy purchases, and he still has some pretty modest hobbies

In March 2013, Alibaba spent a reported $49.7 million on a Gulfstream G550, mostly for Ma's use.

He began to care thoroughly for the environment when a member of his wife's family became sick with an illness that Ma suspected was caused by pollution. He sits on the global board of The Nature Conservancy and has been actively involved in funding process a 27,000-acre nature reserve in China.

Ma is private about his family life. He married Zhang Ying, a teacher whom he met at school, after they graduated in the late 1980s. They have two children — a daughter and a son.

After a recent meeting with US-president Trump, Jack Ma said that China and the United States are not about to be drawn into a trade war. "Give Trump some time. He's open minded," Ma told a panel at Davos in January

Ma is also an entertainer. At a company anniversary event, he dressed up as a punk rocker for a performance in front of 20,000 Alibaba employees.

JackMa at a company anniversary event, dressed as a punk rocker (Source: Youtube: Crocodile in the Yangtze, Jack Ma) (Others)

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There are rumors that Ma came up with the name "Alibaba" while sitting in coffee shop in United States. In "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," a secret password unlocks a trove filled with unbelievable riches. 


AWARDS


Jack made it to the ‘Top 10 Business Leaders of the Year’ list by China Central Television in 2004.

He was titled the ‘Businessperson of the Year’ by the ‘Business Week’ magazine and also mentioned in the list of ‘25 Most Powerful Businesspeople in Asia’, in 2005.

2009 marked many milestones of Jack’s life. He secured a spot in ‘Time’ magazine’s list of ‘World’s 100 Most Influential People’.
He was also honoured with the ‘2009 CCTV Economic Person of the Year: Business Leader of the Decade Award’.

In 2014, ‘Forbes’ magazine had named him as the 30th most powerful person in the world..

At the ‘Asian Awards’ ceremony held in 2015, he was presented with the ‘Entrepreneur of the year’ award.


ALIBABA

After stepping down from the position in 1999, Jack gathered 17 of his friends in his apartment and convinced them to invest in his vision for an online marketplace he called "Alibaba."

The purpose was to establish a website which is more like a one-stop platform for B2B transactions.

Jack gathered 17 of his friends in his apartment and convinced them to invest in his vision for an online marketplace he called "Alibaba" (Source: Youtube: Crocodile in the Yangtze, Jack Ma) (Others)

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During 1999-2000, the company was able to raise funds of $25 million. The company’s business soon expanded to around 240 different nations.

Jack could now foresee e-business as a fast-growing money-making field of the 21st century. He founded ‘Taobao’, ‘Lynx’ and ‘Ali Mama’ in this regard.

‘Taobao’ emerged as one of the top e-commerce websites on the internet. So much so, it even grabbed the attention of the business giant ebay, which was keen on acquiring the firm. Ma, on the other hand, was disinterested in entering into any kind of acquisition deal with the firm.

‘Taobao’ was also sought after by ‘Yahoo’ that invested $1 Billion in Jack’s venture.

Jack was criticised for making profits by selling animal products through the portal. in 2007 after many people from across the world protested that the firm ‘Alibaba’.

Addressing the interest of environmentalists and nature lovers, Jack decided to go against selling products made of Shark flesh on the portal.

Alibaba Group's Timeline:

Year Milestone
1999 Alibaba is officially launched by 18 partners, led by Jack ma - working out of a Hangzhou apartment
2000 The company raises $25 million from SoftBank, Goldman Saschs, Fidelity and other institutions
2002 Alibaba.com becomes profitable
2003 Ecommerce website TaBao is lauinched for consumers in Jack Ma's apartment
2004 Online payment system AliPay is launched
2005 Alibaba group forms strategic partnership with Yahoo inc and takes over operations of China Yahoo
2006 The group makes stratgegic investment in koubei.com
2007 Software company AliSoft is launched
2007 Alibaba group listed on Hong Kong Stock exchange
2007 Alimama is launched - online advertising exchange company
2008 TaoBao mall - B2C platform is introduced to complement Tabao's C2C marketplace
2008 Alibaba Group R&D institute is established
2009 Alibaba cloud computing is established
2010 Alibaba group creates cross-business team to execute full-scale roll-out the big 'TaoBao strategy'
2010 The group announces to embark 0.3% annual revenues toward environmental awareness and conservation
2010 TaoBao mall launches independent web domain Tmall.com
2011 Alibaba announces its plans to build a network of warehouses across china, drive major investment in logistics development
2011 Gap opens inline store on TaoBao mall
2011 Launches Japan relief efoor for earthquake victims
2011 The group reports 220 million US profit in 2010
2011 Ray Ban opens online store on TaoBao Mall
2011 The Motion Picture Association of America gives thumbs up to Alibaba.com for putting up ban on pirated media
2013 Alibaba group said it will begin the process of filing for an initial public offering in the US
2013 Alibaba Group filed registration documents to go public in the US in what may be one of the biggest initial public offerings in American history.
2013 Alibaba group agreed to take a 50 percent stake in Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club, winners of the 2013 AFC Champions League, for 1.2 billion yuan ($192 million).
2013 Alibaba acquired the Chinese mobile internet firm UCWeb.
2014 Alibaba's shares (BABA) began trading on the NYSE
2014 Alibaba announces that it has acquired a $590m minority stake in the Chinese smartphone maker Meizu
2014 Alibaba reported sales of $14.32 billion on China's Singles' Day on 11 November 2015, up 60 percent from 2014
2014 Alibaba entered India's e-commerce space with 25% stake in Paytm owner One97
2014 Alibaba Group invested in Snapdeal
2015 Alibaba Group along with Ant Financial invested about $680 Million in the Indian e-commerce company Paytm
2015 Alibaba buys South China Morning Post and other media assets of SCMP Group for US$ 266 million.
2015 Alibaba buys 33 million shares of Groupon, corresponding to 5.6 per cent stake
2015 Alibaba struck a deal with media agency Oceans Sport and Entertainment to bring Ocean's non-gambling game Match Poker to China.
2015 Alibaba announced that it intended to acquire a controlling interest in the privately held Lazada Group, the "Amazon of Southeast Asia", by paying $500 million for new shares and buying $500M worth of shares from existing investors
2016 Alibaba officially unveiled the Roewe RX5, its first "internet car" in collaboration with SAIC. The RX5 is available for pre-order. It is priced upwards of RMB 148,800 (US$22,300) with deliveries will be scheduled to start in August 2016.


EARLY LIFE

With no resources or contacts, Ma could get ahead only through education. However, he failed his college entrance test twice.

After putting in enormous efforts, he finally cleared the third attempt and attended the Hangzhou Teacher's Institute. He graduated in 1988 and started applying for all the jobs that came his way.

He received a dozen of back-to-back rejections—including from KFC—before being finally hired as an English teacher. Ma was a natural with his students and loved his job. Although, he earned a meager $12 a month at a local university.

In mid 90’s, Jack discovered the technology called the internet and started exploring business opportunities that could utilise this technology. 

Ma had no experience with computers or coding, but he was captivated by the internet when he used it for the first time during a trip to the US in 1995.
Ma's first online search was "beer," but he was surprised to find that no Chinese beers turned up in the results. It was then that he decided to found an internet company for China.

The very same year, he raised $20000 to create an internet-based platform that would create websites for clients. Although he was one of the first entrants in the market for the kind of business, Jack managed to earn a revenue of $800000 in a span of three years.

This success scored Jack the position of the head of an IT-based firm that he pursued for one year.
 


CHILDHOOD

Jack Ma, then named Ma Yun, was born on October 15, 1964, in Hangzhou, located in the southeastern part of China. His parents were involved in a profession of storytelling through music.

He grew up at a time when communist China was increasingly isolated from the West, and his family didn't have much money when they were young.

Ever since he was a child, Jack was keen on learning the English language. This passion used to drive him to a hostel frequented by foreigners near his residence (Source: Youtube: Crocodile in the Yangtze, Jack Ma) (Others)

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Ma has a bony physique yet often got into fights with classmates. "I was never afraid of opponents who were bigger than I," he recalls in "Alibaba," a book by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery.

Still, Ma had hobbies just like any other kid. He liked collecting crickets and making them fight, and was able to distinguish the size and type of cricket just by the sound it made.

Ever since he was a child, Jack was keen on learning the English language. This passion used to drive him to a hostel frequented by foreigners near his residence.

He started guiding visitors in tourist-destinations with the purpose to gain command over the English language.  The nickname "Jack" was given to him by a tourist he befriended.


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