Jack Ma

Jack Ma [Chinese name: Ma Yun] is an investor, politician and most importantly, the founder and the former CEO of the Alibaba Group. Alibaba is a Chinese global innovation organization working in online business, retail, Internet and technology. Ma founded this e-commerce giant on 4th April 1999 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. The company provides Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) with Taobao, Business-to-Consumer (B2C) with Tmall and Business-to-Business (B2B) sales services via web portals, as well as electronic payment services, shopping search engines and cloud computing services. The company owns and operates a diverse arrangement of businesses across the globe in numerous sectors, its most notable affiliate being Ant Group (formerly Ant Financial) which operates Alipay, the world’s biggest mobile and e-payment portal and Zhima Credit, a credit rating system.

A well-known business pioneer, Ma is viewed as a global ambassador for Chinese business and an apt example for successfully starting up an enterprise. He is deemed to be one of the world's most influential individuals with Forbes ranking him 21st on its "World’s Most Powerful People" list.

As of August 2021, Ma is one of the richest people in China with a total net worth of around $40 billion. In 2019, Forbes named Ma as one of "Asia's 2019 Heroes of Philanthropy" for his work supporting underprivileged communities in China, the Middle East, Australia and Africa. In 2014, his company Alibaba had a record-shattering IPO of $25 billion which had debuted at the New York Stock Exchange. At the age of 56, Jack Ma holds a 7.8% stake in Alibaba and a 50% stake in Alipay.

Despite all this massive success, Jack Ma has had it hard in life to get to where he is today with a genuine rags-to-riches story; one that would motivate you even in your darkest days because he had very humble beginnings.

He was brought up alongside an elder sibling and a younger sister during the rise of communist China and its disengagement from the Western districts. His parents were customary musicians-storytellers and they weren’t even rich enough to be even considered as middle-class during those days. Jack constantly wanted to learn English as a child and he spent his mornings riding on his bicycle to a nearby park, giving English visits to outsiders for nothing. It was then he met a foreign girl who gave him the nickname 'Jack' as his name was difficult to spell for her. Jack, after graduating with a Bachelor's qualification in English, filled in as an English instructor at Hangzhou Dianzi University with a pay of $12 every month.

“We keep fighting. We keep changing ourselves. We don’t complain.”

- Jack Ma

Jack Ma is no stranger to shortcomings based on the number of times he was unsuccessful and was dismissed, even at a young age. In his youth, Jack Ma failed in his primary school assessments twice and failed thrice during his middle school tests. When applying to colleges after high school, Jack couldn't clear the entrance tests even after three attempts, before, at long last, joining Hangzhou Normal University. He even applied to Harvard University ten times – and was constantly dismissed. 

During and after his Bachelor's qualification, Jack attempted and failed to find a new line of work at various places. He remembers, "When KFC came to China, 24 people went for the job. 23 people were accepted. I was the only guy who wasn’t". He was, additionally, one of 5 candidates to get a job in the police force and was the only one who was dismissed.

“Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.”

- Jack Ma

After, at last, dealing with the entirety of his rejections and failures, Jack Ma visited the US in 1995 for a government undertaking venture. It was then that Jack Ma was first introduced to the Internet and computers. PCs were really uncommon in China at that point, given the significant expenses related to them. Jack foresaw the potential of the Internet in the future and seeing the dearth of websites in China, he came across a robust business opportunity. 

He was able to convince 17 of his companions to go along with him in his new internet business startup – Alibaba, a company, started from his apartment, to facilitate deals between small businesses. At first, Alibaba didn't have a single penny in the venture from outside investors, however, they later raised $20 million from SoftBank and another $5 million from Goldman Sachs in 1999. Building trust among the individuals of China that an online payment system is safe was the greatest test Jack Ma and Alibaba faced, a test that Jack will remember for his lifetime.

Jack Ma runs one of the greatest e-commerce networks in the world. The organization proceeded to develop quickly, extending the whole way across the world, rapidly coming out of its China shell. Just second to Walmart now in terms of deals every year, Alibaba has become the e-business mammoth that Jack Ma has envisioned it to be. 

Controversy strikes

Between October 2020 and January 2021, Jack Ma was believed to be missing and disappeared from the public eye. Some experts opined that this was due to Ma criticizing the Chinese banks for operating with a “pawn-shop mentality”, as well as mentioning his displeasure with the authorities for the way they were handling and regulating digital finance. Furthermore, some believe this also led to the cancellation of Ant Group’s IPO. This IPO, valued at $34.5 billion, was going to have been the world’s biggest IPO, with bids at around $3 trillion worth of shares. Others believe this was due to sudden regulatory changes in the fintech space. 

In a nutshell, Jack Ma is an inspirational entrepreneur whose work ethic is one to emulate. While some people undermined him when he was on a panel with Elon Musk, they fail to see the struggles and obstacles he overcame to get to where he is. He’s living proof to keep going even after tripping and falling which will end up causing you to persevere, thrive and see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is the account of the incredibly passionate and determined entrepreneur who has changed the substance of business and the Internet in China and all over the world.

“If you can’t get used to failure, just like a boxer, if you can’t get used to being hit, how can you win?”

- Jack Ma

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