Jack MaHeard the name. Now know his story! Published On: Thursday, August 27, 2015 Views 14519


This is the story of one of our personal favourites, a perfect rags-to-the-riches tale of Jack Ma or Ma Yun – the Founder and Executive Chairman of the billion dollar Alibaba Group.

Born on the 15th of October 1964; A widely known Chinese business magnate and a generous philanthropist, Jack is not only the first mainland Chinese entrepreneur to have appeared on the cover of Forbes but with an estimated net worth of $21.7 Billion he is also the richest man in China and the 36th richest person in the world.

Other than that; from a sports team to a film production studio, Jack also has a huge list of other investments across the globe.

What is even worth pointing out is that; Alibaba is worth more than Facebook, and also processes more goods than eBay and Amazon together. Having said all that; he still only holds a 7.8% stake in Alibaba and a 50% stake in Alipay.

Yet as an active philanthropist, he sits on the board of the ‘Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences’ with fellow billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner.

Jack recently came under the world spotlight, with his record-breaking $25 billion IPO (initial public offering) of his Alibaba Group on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014.

Talking about his personal life; jack is married to college-time friend Zhang Ying and they have two daughters and a son.

Flash Back Into The Beginning Of Jack Ma!

Now Jack’s story has so much, that a book would still be less to cover the saga. Hence, we have tried our best to give you the best peep!

Anyway, so this is how began!

Born to a below-middle class family of traditional Musicians-Storytellers, Jack was born and raised along with an elder brother and a younger sister. This was during the time when communist China had risen to power and had got isolated from the rest of the Western regions.

Since a very early age he had developed a sense of inclination towards learning English and used to travel to the nearby hotel on his bike each morning to converse with foreigners and guide them around the city.

This is when he happened to become good friends with a foreigner found his real Chinese name difficult to pronounce and gave him the name “Jack”.

As he grew up, after failing the university entrance exam thrice, Jack went on to attend the Hangzhou Normal University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1988. He was elected as a student chairman.

Later, he went on to become a lecturer in English and International Trade at a monthly salary of $12 at the Hangzhou Dianzi University. Along with that, he also continued to further pursue he studies at the Beijing-based Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) and graduated in 2006.

Anyway, when China’s export boom happened, Jack had started a translation company, due to which he got the opportunity to visit the United States for the first time in 1994. That is where he discovered the internet!

A Story Of Alibaba!

Coming back, during this first encounter of the internet, the first word he searched for was “beer”! Now although, he found a lot of relevant information from many countries, but surprisingly none China! He further went on to search for other general information about China, but to his shock he didn’t find anything, due to which he along with his friend decided to make a website on China.

After receiving numerous emails from some Chinese wanting to know about him, he was made to realise just how much potential internet held.

Hence, together with his wife and a friend, Jack collected $20,000 and started an Internet company in April 1995. The company was called “China Yellow Pages” which was mainly dedicated to creating websites for companies. It was even said that it was the first internet business in China.

In the next three years, this company of theirs went on to make 5,000,000 Chinese Yuan (U$800,000 back then). But China Yellow Pages also turned out to be a highly frustrating one for him!

Why? Because even after making great money, Jack after a period of time was pressured to get into a joint venture with China Telecom and then eventually he lost control of the company – as reported by Business Insider.

Not letting this affect him, Jack moved on to head the information technology company established by the China International Electronic Commerce Center, a department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.

And after working with them for roughly a year, in 1999 he quit the company and with a team of 18 co-founders started Alibaba.com!


After quitting his job, he moved back to his hometown Hangzhou (a city near Shanghai) along with his 18 member team and with an investment of with 500,000 Yuan from his pocket, Jack formally established Alibaba in his apartment.

Alibaba.com leveraged exporters to post product listings that buyers could browse and purchase, basically it was a marketplace model, but without any inventory of their own. Soon, the website also began attracting a lot of crowd from across the globe and to capitalize on the same, Jack also launched another China marketplace (currently known as 1688.com) for domestic wholesale trade.

In the same year itself, with an international venture capital investment of $25 Million from a program that aimed at improving the domestic e-commerce market of China, more specifically the SME (small & medium enterprises) to address WTO challenges, Alibaba began taking the centre stage in the nation.

Over the period of next few years; Jack went on to fix & glorify the Chinese Internet market with his newly found products like Taobao Marketplace, Alipay, Ali Mama and Lynx.

Trivia: – As ‘taobao’ began to make its presence felt, ebay had tried to buy it. Jack not only rejected their offer, but instead joined hands with the founder of yahoo – jerry yang, from whom he received a $1 billion investment.

To add to that, Alibaba Group also took over the operations of China Yahoo! as part of its strategic partnership with Yahoo! Inc. in October 2005.

And believe it or not, by 2012, Alibaba’s collective online transaction volume had exceeded to a massive one trillion Yuan, and since then onwards Jack has been labelled as “Trillion Hou“, which literally means “Trillion Yuan Marquis” in Chinese.

Now because of such great success listed under his name, Jack also has been the first preference of all invites to give lectures by famous universities across the globe including Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Peking University and many more.

In May 2013, Jack who till now had served as CEO of the company, decided to step down and took over the role of the Executive Chairman, soon after which he was also elected to the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum.

But the biggest news of his career came in September 2014, when it was reported that Alibaba Group’s IPO on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) has received the largest IPO in US history and has put him on top of the China’s richest.

Since then, not only has Jack Ma become one of the richest in the world, but Alibaba Group has also become one of the most valuable tech companies in the world as well. And today with a Market Cap of $201.7 Billion, Alibaba along with its nine major subsidiaries – Alibaba.com, Taobao Marketplace, Tmall, eTao, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Juhuasuan, 1688.com, AliExpress.com and Alipay, has clearly made its way to the global top!

Trivia: Jack has never actually written a line of code, nor made one Sale to a customer.

ALIBABA – The Group

As we know, Alibaba – the group is a China-based B2B marketplace that currently serves to members from more than 240 countries and territories.

A company that is often compared to Amazon, is actually quite the opposite. Unlike its competitors, Alibaba does not buy or sell products by itself, instead, leverages the small businesses to buy and sell their own goods. And with a delivery rate of over 30 million packages per day and sales worth $390 Billion (2014), Alibaba clearly rules its market. With anticipated sales worth $1 trillion, Alibaba is believed to be larger than Wal-mart by the end of FY15this year.

Apart from & before the IPO, Alibaba Group had raised a total of $4.8 Billion from investors like – blisce/, DST Global, Temasek Holdings, Yahoo! Partner: Jerry Yang, SoftBank Capital, Fidelity Growth Partners Asia, Goldman Sachs, and many more like such!

To add to that; in an attempt to expand worldwide and at the same time to strategically position themselves across the globe, Alibaba has made a total of 45 Investments across widely diversified companies globally including Snapdeal ($500 Million) and PayTM ($700 Million) in 2015.

Below mentioned are a list of the main subsidiaries listed & operated under the Alibaba Group: – (Source: – Alibaba Group)

  • Alibaba.com

The first business of Alibaba Group. It is the leading platform for global wholesale trade through which small businesses can sell their products to companies in other countries.

  • 1688.com

Launched in 1999, 1688.com is a leading online wholesale marketplace in China, that serves as a wholesale channel for merchants doing business on Alibaba Group’s retail marketplaces to source products from domestic wholesalers.

  • Taobao.COM

Launched in May 2003, Taobao Marketplace is the online shopping destination for Chinese consumers looking for wide selection, value and convenience.

  • Alimama.com

Launched in November 2007, Alimama is an online marketing technology platform that offers sellers on Alibaba Group’s marketplaces online marketing services for both personal computers and mobile devices.

Through the Taobao Affiliate Network, Alimama also offers these sellers with the provision of marketing their services on third-party websites as well.

  • Tmall.com

Launched in April 2008, Tmall provides top-quality branded merchandise to the increasingly sophisticated Chinese consumers.

  • Aliyun.com

Established in September 2009, Aliyun (Alibaba Cloud Computing) develops and provides highly scalable cloud computing and data management services to large and small businesses, financial institutions, governments and other organizations with flexible, cost-effective solutions to meet their networking and information needs.

  • Juhuasuan.com

Most popular online group buying marketplace in China Launched in March 2010, Juhuasuan is a group buying marketplace in China that offers quality products at discounted prices through flash sales which make products available at discounted prices for a limited period of time.

  • Aliexpress.com

Launched in April 2010, AliExpress is a global retail marketplace targeted at consumers worldwide, which enables consumers from around the world to buy directly from wholesalers and manufacturers in China.

  • Ant financial services

Ant Financial services focuses on serving small and micro enterprises and consumers to create an open ecosystem of Internet thinking and technologies. Some of the businesses operated by Ant Financial Services include Alipay, Alipay Wallet, Yu’e Bao, Zhao Cai Bao,

Ant Micro Loan and Sesame Credit.

  • Cainiao logistics

Cainiao Logistics operates a logistics information platform which provides real-time access to information for both buyers and sellers, as well as information that allows delivery service providers to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their services, to meet the current and future logistics demands of China’s online and mobile commerce sector.

The Route To India!

Indian merchants are already the second biggest sellers on the Alibaba.com after the Chinese, who are famously known for their tea, spices, and chocolates.

But because India has restrictions on FDI (foreign direct investment) in e-commerce, Alibaba who recently opened a development centre in India may opt a similar path to that of their competitor – Amazon India, and become a marketplace only for third-party sellers.

Other than that; Alibaba has also made some strategic and notable backdoor entry in India, also to test the waters, by investing greatly in some of the Internet firms.

Alibaba had made its first move by investing $700 Million in One97 (parent company of PayTM), and picking up a 25% stake in the firm. The company is also in the advanced stages of its talk with One97 to raise its stake to 40% soon. Secondly and more recently, Alibaba has also invested $500 Million in Snapdeal.com at a valuation of $4-4.5 billion.


His achievements are quite honestly beyond count but yet, below mentioned are some of the notable ones: -

  • Ranked as the “30th most powerful person in the world” by Forbes (2014)
  • Selected as one of “Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy” by Forbes Asia (2010)
  • Chosen as one of “China’s Most Powerful People” by BusinessWeek (2009)
  • Listed as one of the “Top 10 Most Respected Entrepreneurs in China” by Forbes magazine China (2009)
  • Selected as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum (2005)


“A businessman by blood, but a business writer out of passion”! As a Business Writer; Karan’s forte lies in writing some really interesting Case Studies about Companies/Eminent Personalities covering aspects which certainly, would not bore you to death!

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