Jack Ma: founder of the Alibaba Group Internet empire
Jack Ma built the Alibaba Group Internet empire despite poverty, numerous failures and setbacks. Difficulties did not break him, they only made him stronger. Today, Ma is China’s richest man, and his business is known far beyond the country’s borders.
The future billionaire was born in 1964 into a family of musicians who endured many oppressions during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The boy’s childhood, then still Ma Yun, was poor and difficult. However, there was a goal that kept him working – he wanted to learn English. Ma had this idea after American President Richard Nixon came to China. At the age of 9, the boy would go to a hotel to hear conversational speech and communicate with foreigners. Corresponding with English-speaking friends, he began calling himself Jack because the name was easy to pronounce and remember. A little older, Ma got language practice organizing travel groups. During this time he got to know a lot of Americans and Englishmen.
Jack wanted to get a higher education, so he entered the teacher’s college of his native Hangzhou twice, but each time he failed the math exam. The third time Ma still managed to become a student, and in 1988 he graduated from the college with a bachelor’s degree in English. He worked as a teacher at the institute until 1993, and in 1994 he decided to start his own business. Haibo was a translation company and the business was doing well until Jack Ma was introduced to the opportunities of the Internet. In 1995, the Hangzhou Municipality commissioned a trip to the United States for the entrepreneur. Having seen how American sites were developing, Jack decided to implement one idea in his native country. Upon his return, he set up a firm called China Pages, which developed business websites for businesses. Ma believed in the enormous potential of the Internet, and wanted to show its benefits to businesses.
In 1999, Ma founded Alibaba Group in his native Hangzhou, which provided a marketplace for small sellers. To use the site, entrepreneurs paid a subscription fee and placed goods. And it was possible to trade both in China, and to enter other markets.
In 2003, Jack set up the Taobao site, which was a marketplace on the Internet. 80% of the Chinese online shopping segment was occupied by eBay, which cooperated with the local EachNet. They were taking mandatory fees from portal users, and Ma decided to provide more favorable terms. Taobao had no commission for a transaction, the portal earned on advertising and sale of various services.
In 2005 Alibaba Group attracted investments from Yahoo!, and in 2007 Ma received an offer to sell the business to eBay, but he refused. Jack stepped down as chairman of Alibaba’s board of directors, and has continued to enjoy life ever since.