Jack Ma

Jack Ma

More Than A Chinese Entrepreneur

With path-breaking results and a recent revenue jump of nearly 40 percent, Alibaba has shown that it has the pulse of the complex Chinese investment market. When seeking to construct an ideal workplace Jack Ma tends to focus on big cerebral concepts, such as purpose & shared values, which soon became the bedrock of Alibaba Group.

“No matter how tough the chase is, you should always have the dream you saw on the first day. It’ll keep you motivated and rescue you (from any weak thoughts).”

There’s the founder and executive Chairman of a successful Internet-based business, the Alibaba Group, who happens to be leading the world of online trade. Few people carry gravitas and mirth in equal measure. Jack Ma is one of those exceptions. For the ones who have seen him amongst his favorite people have witnessed the most chirpy side of him and when you walk into a meeting headed by him, you will witness anything but company commerce.

Taking the sturdy little steps

Ma Yun or the fondly called Jack Ma was born on September 10, 1964, in Hangzhou, situated in the southeastern part of China. Being born during China’s Cultural Revolution, his family members had an active participation in a profession of narrating stories hrough music were persecuted. Teaching him some tough lessons at an early age, life was never a cake walk for Jack. He was brought up along with an elder brother and a younger sister with only a handful of money at disposal as the communist China was then facing isolation from the west. At the tender age of 12 years, he developed a keen interest in learning English. Having skilled the language, Jack was able to practice the same as China became more open to foreign tourists and he played a guide to them. Hard work was also his key characteristic, as every morning, he rode his bike for 40 minutes for eight years to a hotel near the city of Hangzhou’s West Lake district, about 100 miles south-west of Shanghai.

Blessed with an overwhelming heart, he used to mingle with tourists really well. Not many people know that one of the American kids that he befriended named him Jack as his real name was a little hard to pronounce. It is rightly said that one is only satisfied when it is perfect and, in the virtue of achieving the same Jack worked really hard in those initial eight
years of his career. The long haul paid off as he became more globalized than a majority of other Chinese youngsters.

Ambition knows no time zone

The vivacious Jack first blossomed in open when he was invited to spend his summer vacations in Australia in Those 31 days helped him groom and understand the real world.
After flunking twice in the university exams and just before Hangzhou Teachers University accepted him, Jack studied to be a high school English teacher. He was elected to be the student chairman and later on went to be the chairman of the city’s Students Federation.
Jack’s journey started off from rags-to-riches when he was the only one of 500 students who was accredited to teach at a university. As they say, “no matter where you are your dreams are valid”, his first pay was $12-$15 per month, but he always aspired to join a business 5 years from then. He was no exception in his childhood, as Jack too got thrashed by his father several times over his mischievous acts, however that came along with a lot many revering memories too. He liked collecting and fighting crickets, an ancient pastime that was later on banned. Jack developed an expert ear; able to distinguish the type and size of cricket just by the sound. The year 1992 saw a rise in the Chinese economy and Jack again went on to try his luck but was turned down by many including the secretary to the general manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

The secrets of great teamwork

He made his billions during his first trip to the US in 1995, where he was very captivated with computers and coding. Jack Ma, the founder of the leading e-commerce firm Alibaba, once gathered 17 of his close-knit friends after his two failed attempts to establish his market presence. He persuaded his friends, the same people he could share his deepest concerns and his silliest ideas without any inhibitions to invest in his vision of creating an online marketplace called “Alibaba”. As they say, there is no point hiding something under the carpet, especially from the people who are serving to turn the entrepreneurs dream into reality. Alibaba has always been a fun organization to work for, it was the very first time when the company became profitable and Jack Ma treated each and every employee with a can of Silly String to go wild with. He is one of the employers who will go out of the box to keep up the energy levels of his employees and makes sure that he motivates the team enough at regular intervals. Back in the year 2000, when Alibaba decided to start Taobao, its eBay competitor, he made his team do handstands during breaks to keep their energy levels high. Jack Ma had always been of an inquisitive nature and his ability to and reexamine issues helps him to look at situations from various angles and see opportunities where most people see only problems. This has also helped him accomplish what many people can’t even think of. A straight situation being, when most people feared conducting
e-commerce in China due to an unreliable and untrustworthy payment system, Jack Ma got
Alibaba to build Alipay without the Chinese banking authority approval at the risk of his personal freedom. Now Alipay facilitates more business globally than PayPal, as measured in U.S. dollars.

A Rich Harvest

It was only in the year 2005 that Yahoo invested a total of $1 billion in Alibaba in exchange for an approximate 40% stake in the company, this is when the chemistry worked for Alibaba. It was just at the same time when the company was on the verge of beating eBay
in China. On the other hand, it fetched a huge fortune for Yahoo, as the stake netted it $10 billion in Alibaba’s IPO alone. The year 2013 saw Jack Ma stepping down from his post of a CEO only to continue as an executive chairman. Jack Ma is elated that what they have been able to achieve is not money, but instead they have earned is the trust of people in a brand called Alibaba. The history of the New York Stock Exchange witnessed the largest offering for a US-listed company with Alibaba’s $150 billion IPO. It further made Jack Ma, the richest man in China with an estimated worth of $25 billion. Soon after attaining one of the highest brand positions in the market, Alibaba employees threw a big party at the company’s Hangzhou headquarters to honor. Jack Ma, while addressing his employees at a press conference, stated 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.”

“Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big. Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world.”

Back in March 2013, Alibaba spent a reported $49.7 million for a Gulfstream G550, mostly for Jack Ma’s use. The number of people who stop to listen when Jack Ma addresses any gathering speaks volume about him carrying a stature no less than that of a celebrity in China. Jack Ma has that natural entertaining streak in himself, out of which the company also hosts annual talent shows. There was a time when he dressed up as a punk rocker for a performance in front of 20,000 Alibaba employees at a company anniversary event. Company lore has it that Ma came up with the name “Alibaba” while sitting in a San Francisco coffee shop. Going by the old story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” there is a secret password that unlocks a trove filled with unbelievable riches. If at all the company fortune of Alibaba is observed minutely, one can understand that the brand has unveiled the potential of small and mid-sized businesses across the globe. A true hallmark of a well-run company is that its founder members are kept in the loop on all matters of concern to every employee. The IPO made Jack Ma one of the leading men in business, but he never got involved in any of the flashy purchases to please himself, instead he till date has some pretty modest hobbies. Jack Ma’s friends vouch for him being the same old person he has always been. His hobbies vary from reading and writing kung fu fiction, playing poker, meditating, and practicing Tai chi. He has recently joined hands with Jet Li to spread awareness of tai chi, and he brings a trainer along with him when he travels.

Help Save the Habitat

As they say, in a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace. Jack Ma vested his interest in environmentalism when a family member of his wife’s side became severely ill due to pollution. From that very day, he has been very close to mother earth. Despite being thoroughly occupied with his businesses, Jack Ma takes time out to enjoy some quite mornings in the lap of nature.
He chairs as one of the active members of the global board of The Nature Conservancy and
also spoke during a session of the Clinton Global Initiative. He has also played an instrumental role in funding a 27,000-acre nature reserve in China.

The Family Affair

Soon after Jack Ma scaled new height of success, people started asking a lot about his personal life. But for him, the family life was a very close and personal thing. Jack Ma has profoundly kept his family life out of the spotlight and glamour of the business showbiz. He married Zhang Ying, a teacher whom he met at school after they graduated in the late ‘80s. In one of the rare interviews, his wife stated that he is not a handsome man, but I fell for him because he can do a lot of things handsome men cannot do. The couple has been blessed with two children, a daughter and a son who is an undergrad at UC Berkeley. Jack Ma has also been observed auditing history classes at his son’s college.