1) Jack Ma is a renowned Chinese billionaire who owns the two powerful websites, Taobao and Alibaba Group. He is the first successful Chinese entrepreneur to appear on the cover of Forbes.
2) Ma comes from a humble background. He grew up in a small town of Hangzhou. After failing the entrance exam for a higher university twice, he decided to join the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute where he graduated with a BA in English.
3) When Ma hooked up his Internet connection at home, he was more than excited. He invited friends and family to come over to experience this phenomenon. They would wait hours just for a page to download, drinking, eating and chatting all the while. However, the point was not using the Internet; it was to show China that the Internet existed.
4) Ma’s interest in the Internet took flight. In 1999, he founded the website Alibaba.com. This website now has more than 79 million users from over 240 countries. Alibaba.com serves as a marketplace for businesses and consumers.
5) In January of 2013, Jack Ma announced his unexpected resignation as CEO of Alibaba Group in May of the same year. He stated that he would still be working for the company as Executive Chairman, saying he was too old for the Internet now. His resignation has raised many questions regarding his health and the real reason he has decided to retire at the young age of 48.
6) Products from China do not hold a high reputation in much of the world. Due to this among other factors, the US government had listed Ma’s website, Alibaba.com as a “notorious market” for some time. This is defined as a company that does not follow US government copyrights and business regulations.
7) Ma was a hard worker as a young boy. He was an informal tour guide in Hangzhou, and would ride his bike every day to translate for tourists. He taught at the college he graduated from. Ma was determined to do something for China, and had ideas about how to get there.
8) He was determined to learn English, the first step in making a difference. There was only one hotel in Hangzhou that foreigners would stay at, and this is where, for nine years, Ma would ride his bike to offer his free service as a tour guide. This allowed him to practice English and worked as a way for him to learn English as well.
9) Ma does not think of his success as limited only to the Chinese. He says that his website Alibaba was surely created by the Chinese, but it is not only for the Chinese, and he does not even refer to it as a Chinese company. He says it belongs to those who use it, to all Alibaba users worldwide.
10) Ma’s second internet success was in 2003 with the launch of Taobao.com. Taobao means, “Searching for treasure.” This website was similar to eBay, which was not very common in China at the time. Taobao became much more popular in China, and in 2005, Yahoo! purchased a share in Alibaba.com for US$ 1 billion.
11) Jack Ma is not ashamed to admit that he knows little about technology. Coming from the CEO of a tech company, this is quite surprising. He also goes on to admit that he cannot write code, and knows as much about the internet as any ‘regular’ person.
12) Ma thinks differently from many people, and is not afraid to make this known. He says that consumers are the most important factor in making his company run, then come the employees, and lastly are the shareholders. He explains further that the consumers are the most important, as they make his company run. Employees come next as they are loyal to the company and work hard for success. Shareholders are last, as they are taking part completely for their own good, and they are never fully stable, they change all the time.
13) Although he has created a large business force such as Alibaba, Ma believes that what China now needs are powerful small entrepreneurial businesses. This will ensure an increase in jobs, and this will do China more good than just supplying the country with money.
14) Ma is married to wife Zhang Ying. He likes to mention that she is the reason behind his success. She quit her job to give all of her attention to her family. They have one son and one daughter. Ma says that Ying not only helps with the family, but she also helps him with his career.
15) A shock came to Jack Ma when he learned that his employees were working behind his back and were cheating hundreds of consumers. Ma fired 100 salespeople that he had on deck. The employees had been fired for setting up fake sellers and taking orders and payments from buyers but never delivered their purchases.
16) Ma is not one to shy away from spending his money. He bought a penthouse in a luxury apartment building in Hong Kong for US$ 38 million. It is a five bedroom duplex set in a beautiful neighborhood.
17) Success and money have not clouded Ma’s love for his country. He has recently become a trustee of The Nature Conservancy’s China program. He is devoted to finding ways to help improve China’s environment.
18) When asked what has inspired Ma to become interested in the environment, he says that there are many. He says the river he used to swim in as a child now only comes up to his ankles. His father in law recently died of cancer, and this has led the entire family to become much more health and environmental conscience.
19) Ma says he is not a very religious person, but is very interested in religion. “I love Christianity. I love Buddhism. I love Taoism.” For him Buddhism is more of a culture, as it has been embedded into the Chinese lifestyle for hundreds of years.
20) Although the company has had some issues with trust and loyalty, Ma has not lost faith. His company team trusts him, and he trusts them. They will do anything for the company, and work hard to satisfy their customers. Ma makes sure to involve employees in decisions and changes in the company; he says that it is important for employees to feel that they hold a valued position in the company.
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