One of the wealthiest people in China, nay, the world, Jack Ma, is among the world’s most renowned businessmen and philanthropists.
The co-founder of the behemoth conglomerate, Alibaba Group, which houses retail, e-commerce, technology, and artificial intelligence, Jack Ma has been listed as one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the world, according to Forbes.
Besides his success story, what are some facts about Jack Ma that have made him who he is? Let’s find out.
Jack Ma’s name was Ma Yun; he changed it to Jack to make it easier on the Western tongue—for foreigners who found it difficult to pronounce his name.
Jack Ma started his career as an English teacher. He learnt English by interacting with tourists in the Huangzhou area for almost a decade.
As a student, Ma has himself admitted that he wasn’t too great at school. He failed middle school almost thrice, even going on to fail college exams. He was rejected ten times from Harvard Business School.
He completed his BA in English from the Huangzhou Teacher’s Institute and started teaching international trade at the Huangzhou Dianzi University.
Ma was rejected by over 30 different jobs, including one at KFC.
The stint with the internet
In early 1995, Ma went to the US and created a website, and as soon as the website was live, he drew interest from potential Chinese investors. He soon began another company with the domain chinapages.com, a website that fetched his company $800,000 in the next three years.
The idea for Alibaba
Alibaba was founded as an internet marketplace company in Jack Ma’s apartment after returning to Huangzhou from the US in the 90s.
In 2000, Alibaba gained traction from venture capitalists and received two rounds of $25 million to convert the business into a platform for small- and medium-sized Chinese businesses. Soon, Jack Ma made it to the 10 most respected entrepreneurs in China.
Presently, Jack Ma’s net worth is estimated at $35.6 billion, putting him at par with the world’s top tech entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Ma is considered a role model for entrepreneurs and businesses not just in China but the world over. Fortune has listed him in the 2nd position for the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders List.
In 2020, Ma stepped down as the executive chairman of the Alibaba Group on retirement.