Stories

Jack Ma – The Inspirational Life Story Of Founder Of AliBaba

Jack Ma, Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group Holding, People's Republic of China; Member of the Board of Trustees, World Economic Forum, speaking during the session, Enabling eCommerce: Small Enterprises, Global Players, at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 24, 2018. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Ciaran McCrickard

Personal Life

Jack Ma Alibaba was born to traditional storyteller parents on October 15, 1964, in Hangzhou, China. Jack Ma was the second child in the family.  He had a modest upbringing. During his childhood communism was at its peak in the country. The residents have little or no contact with the western world, however, his zeal to acquire new skills and enhance his aptitude was evident from childhood.

Jack Ma Childhood Image

Jack Ma and English

He was only 12 years old when he got interested in learning English. From the year 1972, the tourism boomed into the city and it spirited jack to make the most of the opportunity. Despite the weather conditions, every morning he rode the bike for 40 minutes for eight years to a hotel near the city of Hangzhou’s West Lake district, he works as the tourist guide in exchange for the lessons in English.

While working as a tourist guide, in 1979 he met a family with two kids from Australia. They spend three days together and played Frisbee and the two continued correspondence further and became a pen pal, his pen pal named him “JACK” as he found Ma’s original name a little difficult to pronounce.

In 1985 they invited him to go to Australia for a summer vacation. He went in July, and those 31 days changed his life and his way of thinking about China and the Western world. Before he left China, he was educated that China was the richest, happiest country in the world. But when he arrived in Australia, he got to know that what he was told was totally different from the reality. That changed him completely and started thinking differently.

Education

Jack Ma’s education was not all smooth sailing; Jack failed his primary school examination two times before he got it right. Continuing to middle school Jack failed to graduate three times before going through. This was not the end of his educational career, after high school while applying for universities he failed the entrance exam thrice. He wanted to join Oxford University but he got rejected all ten times. But eventually, he got admission in Hangzhou Normal University where he graduated with the degree of bachelor in English.

Professional Career

After graduating from school he applied to thirty different companies but got rejected by all of them including KFC. He even applied for a police officer job but they didn’t even give him the time of the day and reject him by saying that “You’re No Good”. Jack got frustrated with the lack of solid employment opportunity after graduating in the early 1990’s.

Jack relied on his English and started giving lectures in local university though he made only $12 a month from there. Later he started a translation service business. Upon his visit to the United States in 1995 as a translator, Jack was introduced to the internet. He was totally shocked after he looked up beer from all around the world and learned that there was none from the china on the World Wide Web. Jack immediately understood the job opportunities the World Wide Web could create and also what small and middle enterprises can earn through this network.

ChinaPages

Then He and his friends decided to launch a website about China and Chinese products online. And named it as China page that lifted the Chinese market and Chines products. Within the same day, they started receiving emails from people around the globe requesting them to partner with their company. That experience taught jack about the incredible power of connectivity, especially how the internet can affect the global trade essentially for small/medium enterprises.

However, due to lack of funding, Jack had to shut down this business. He later took up a government job at the Ministry of Foreign trade and economic cooperation in the latter half of 1990’s. He also built him an important connection with influential people that latter impact Jack’s life and business venture.

Alibaba: The Start Of New E-commerce Era

One of who was “Jerry Yang” the founding member of Yahoo. Later after leaving the Government Job in 1999, Jack tried his second time in the internet based business venture by grouping 18 people including himself and his wife and found “Alibaba”.

Here is the original sales speech to Alibaba’s employees in 1999.

Fundraising for Alibaba

Jack tried to raise fund from Silicon Valley which the tech hub at the United States of America. But he was denied to raise any funds for his business. His business model was criticized to be unprofitable and unsustainable by many during that time. But he was not the one to bow down easily.

They continued to raise fund and eventually got a total of $25 Million from Goldman Sachs and Soft bank collectively to invest in his business model. Alibaba has to face many difficulties in the online market but this couldn’t stop Jack Ma. He revised the business strategy and closes all the international market and focused on their market in China. With only a few years of efforts, Alibaba made their mark after driving eBay out of China. Jack succeeded in getting Yahoo to invest 1 Billion for a 40% stake in Alibaba in 2005.

Alibaba at its Peak

Jack always believed in any business customers should come first then the employee and stakeholder in the last. He always prioritizes his customers and their needs. Jack and his team successfully raised $25 Billion for Alibaba in 2014 by listing it is a stock exchange in the United States. Jack Ma always focused on providing the quality which has always been the key factor in his business. The day he started until now he has been providing the quality to its customers.

That made Alibaba a fifteen-year-old eCommerce company that has its origins outside the United States as one of the largest company as measured by its market capitalization that is $200 Billion.

 “You have to pick up the things that you are really passionate about. When you do business, you have to do things you believe in. If you don’t like it, you can never sustain it.” – JACK MA

 

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Rehan Ahmad

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