Ma Yun (Chinese: 马云, [mà y̌n]; was born October 15, 1964), known professionally as Jack Ma, is a Chinese business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He is the co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, a multinational technology conglomerate. As of March 2018, he is one of China's richest men with a net worth of US$42.4 billion, as well as one of the wealthiest people in the world.
Ma is seen as a global ambassador for Chinese business and as such is frequently listed as one of the world's most powerful people by Forbes. In 2017, he was ranked 2nd in the annual "World's 50 Greatest Leaders" list by Fortune.
Jack Ma applied for 30 different jobs and got rejected by all. "I went for a job with the police; they said, 'you're no good,'" Ma told interviewer Charlie Rose. "I even went to KFC when it came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted. I was the only guy...". In addition he applied 10 times for Harvard Business School (HBS) and got rejected.
In 1994, Ma heard about the Internet. In early 1995, he went to the US and with his friends they helped him get introduced to the Internet. During his first encounter he searched the word "beer". Although he found information related to beer from many countries, he was surprised to find none from China. Further, he tried to search for general information about China and again was surprised to find none. So he and his friend created an "ugly" website related to China.
He launched the website at 9:40 AM, and by 12:30 PM he had received emails from some Chinese wishing to know about him. This is when Ma realised that the Internet had something great to offer. In April 1995, Ma, his wife, and a friend raised US$ 20,000 and started their first company. Their company was dedicated to creating websites for companies. He named their company "China Yellow Pages." Within three years, his company had made 5,000,000 Chinese Yuan which was equivalent to US$800,000.
Ma began building websites for Chinese companies with the help of friends in the US. He has said that "the day we got connected to the Web, I invited friends and TV people over to my house," and on a very slow dial-up connection, "we waited three and a half hours and got half a page....
We drank, watched TV and played cards, waiting. But I was so proud. I proved (to my house guests that) the Internet existed." At a conference in 2010, Ma revealed that he has never actually written a line of code nor made one sale to a customer. He acquired a computer for the first time at the age of 33.
From 1998 to 1999, Ma headed an information technology company established by the China International Electronic Commerce Center, a department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. In 1999, he quit and returned to Hangzhou with his team to found Alibaba, a China-based business-to-business marketplace site in his apartment with a group of 18 friends. He started a new round of venture development with 500,000 yuan.
In October 1999 and January 2000, Alibaba twice won a total of a $25 million foreign venture capital investment. The program was expected to improve the domestic e-commerce market and perfect an e-commerce platform for Chinese enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to address World Trade Organization (WTO) challenges.
Ma wanted to improve the global e-commerce system and from 2003 he founded Taobao Marketplace, Alipay, Ali Mama and Lynx. After the rapid rise of Taobao, eBay offered to purchase the company. However, Ma rejected their offer, instead garnering support from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang with a $1 billion investment.
In September 2014 it was reported Alibaba was raising over $25 billion in an initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange. Alibaba became one of the most valuable technology companies in the world after raising $25 billion, the largest initial public offering in US financial history.
Ma now serves as executive chairman of Alibaba Group, which is a holding company with nine major subsidiaries: Alibaba.com, Taobao Marketplace, Tmall, eTao, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Juhuasuan, 1688.com, AliExpress.com and Alipay. In November 2012, Alibaba's online transaction volume exceeded one trillion yuan. Ma has often been invited to lecture at Peking University. As of 2016, Ma is the owner of Château de Sours in Bordeaux, Chateau Guerry in Côtes de Bourg and Château Perenne in Blaye, Côtes de Bordeaux.
On January 9, 2017, Ma talked with United States President Donald Trump at Trump Tower about how to create 1 million American jobs in five years. On September 8 2017, to celebrate Alibaba's 18th year of establishment, Ma appeared on stage and turned the event into a 'Thriller' with a Michael Jackson inspired performance. This isn't the first time Ma has performed at an Alibaba event. He performed part of "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" at the 2009 event while dressed as heavy metal lead singer. In the same month, Jack Ma will also be joining hands with Sir Li Ka-shing to bring a digital wallet service in Hong Kong.
Written by Robert Brus