17 interesting facts about Jack Ma – Co-founder of Alibaba
Co-founder and executive chair of Alibaba, Jack Ma stepped down from his role on Sept. 10, 2019. As he hands over the reins of one of the biggest internet firms in the world to successor Daniel Zhang, here are some interesting facts about Ma.
- The tycoon began his career as an English teacher, even though he wasn’t a great student. However, he developed a passion for English from a nascent age and even rode his bike for nearly 40 minutes to visit a hotel where he could converse with foreigners, just to get a good grasp on the language.
- In an interview with Inc. magazine, he revealed that his first salary was around 100-120 renminbi, which was around $12-$15 per month. He said, “I always had a dream that when I finished my five years, I would join a business – a hotel or whatever. I just wanted to go do something.”
- Ma’s aim behind the founding of Alibaba was to bring the internet to China. In 1995, during a trip to a friend’s place in Seattle, Washington, U.S., Ma was introduced to the World Wide Web. He did a quick search for “beer” and saw there were no results from China. When he returned home, he planned to change the situation and propagate internet in China, first with a website called China Pages and later with Alibaba.
- He always had a global outlook when it came to market and competition. In his original sales pitch for his Alibaba employees back in 1999, he said, “Since we were working on China Pages, I’ve always said our competitors are not domestic websites, but overseas websites. Our competitors are not in China, but in America’s Silicon Valley… We need to learn the hard working spirit of Silicon Valley.”
- Despite his industry acumen, interestingly, Ma isn’t a tech-savvy person himself. In an interview with journalist Charlie Rose, he said, “I was trained to be a high school teacher. I know nothing about technology. The only thing I can use my computer [for] is [to] send, receive email and browse.”
- He doesn’t spend too much time online as well. A Businessweek prolife on him revealed, “Ma shows little interest in technology: He doesn’t spend much time online and depends on a colleague to help him download U.S. TV shows to his iPad. Instead, he dabbles in poker, traditional medicine and other pastimes.”
- Ma’s parents were professional pingtan performers, which is a traditional art of storytelling and ballad-singing. Ma himself doesn’t shy away from performing at times. In 2009, at a glitzy Alibaba Group Employee Rally, Ma regaled the crowds with a performance of the “Lion King” theme, fully decked up with rockstar wigs, nose piercings and flame jackets (pictured).
- He loves martial arts. A Financial Times report revealed, “People don’t realize how much martial arts and kung fu novels influence Jack and his strategy for business. They also helped shape his idealism because they are all about upholding the righteous way.”
- If he were born in times of war, Ma would have preferred to be a military man. In an interview with The New York Times, he said, “I could have been a general. I thought about what I could have achieved in war.”
- He isn’t one to shy away from his mistakes. He even joked that he would rather call Alibaba “1001 mistakes.” He humbly said in the Inc. interview, “We expanded too fast, and then in the dot-com bubble, we had to have layoffs. By 2002, we had only enough cash to survive for 18 months. We had a lot of free members using our site, and we didn’t know how we’d make money. So, we developed a product for China exporters to meet U.S. buyers online. This model saved us. By the end of 2002, we made $1 in profits. Each year, we improved.”
- He holds his “customers first, employees second and shareholders third” in regard. In the interview with Charlie Rose, he reasoned that when Alibaba goes through a crisis, it is the investors who tend to flee first, while the employees and customers remain more loyal.
- When it came to naming his company, Ma wanted something that would echo globally. He chose Alibaba because people can usually associate it with the phrase “Open, Sesame,” from the “One Thousand and One Nights” tales.
- His favorite movie is “Forrest Gump” (1994). In an interview with CNBC, he said, “I’ve been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time when I’m frustrated, I watch the movie.” He believes that the movie taught him that “no matter whatever changed, you are you, and I’m still the guy who, 15 years ago, only earned $20 a month.”
- Ma’s nickname is Feng Qingyang, from a legendary swordsman who was known for his aggression, unpredictability and reclusiveness.
- In 2014, Alibaba’s IPO set a record with the world’s biggest public stock offering, raising $25 billion.
- One of the richest persons in the world, Ma is valued at $38.6 billion by Forbes, making him the richest Chinese, at the time of his stepping down.
- He revealed to The New York Times in 2018 that he wishes to focus on philanthropy and education after stepping down. The report also said that he would remain on the company board as a mentor.
Updated on 10:29 pm PKT |Mallahpost
Sources and Image courtesy : MSN and getty images