No, we are not talking about the fiction Alibaba and forty thieves’ story but we are talking about Alibaba the Chinese multi-national conglomerate which was founded by Jack Ma, who is World’s 20th richest man after Mukesh Ambani who ranks 19th. His story gives us taste of astonish and amaze because it’s one of the rags to riches tales.
A tale of a person who doesn’t know coding but still heads 3 of top 5 e-commerce websites. He is person who made his name just with the technology. A story to know about.
“Without Internet, there would have been no Jack Ma, and no Alibaba or Taobao.”
– Jack Ma
Jack Ma was born on September 10,1964 in a poor family in China in which six people shared $7 a month. And their family could afford only one chicken a year. In 1972, China became open door and lot of tourists started visiting China. He learned English by being free guide to tourists. His real name is actually Ma Yun which he changed to Jack Ma as his pen pal found it difficult to pronounce his name.
“The thing I learn from the book from China are so different from the things I learn from the American visitors. So, I started to think differently.”
He applied for Harvard Business School 10 times but got rejected all the time. In China too entrance exam of Colleges is held once a year and Ma took 4 years to pass entrance exam of College and graduated in 1988 with B.A. in English.
Ma then applied for several jobs including a job for Police officer and job at KFC where he was the only one among the 24 applicants who was rejected. Just imagine if he would have got a job in KFC then, would you then be reading about him?
He then started teaching English in a School.
He heard about Internet for first time in 1994. In 1995 when he visited America, the first words he searched on Internet was “Beer”, To his surprise he found American beers, Japanese Beers but no Chinese Beers. Then he searched China and found no substantial information about it too. He then and there decided to bring China on Internet and make one of the World’s best 10 website.
One of his friends had lend money to one American. On his visit he had to collect that money too. But when he went to collect money, the American held him captive and locked him in his house. Ma was even threatened by handgun. Then the American took Jack Ma once to Las Vegas from there Ma somehow escaped.
Ma when escaped from the American had not much money so he tried his luck at the slot machines and won $600 of which he bought his aeroplane tickets.
7. China Pages
After returning from U.S. he opened his first company named China Pages which would create websites for companies. Initially he would go knocking on doors of Government officials who would turn him away saying that what he was doing wasn’t appropriate and he should go back to teaching English. Within 3 years the company managed to earn $800,000 which is nearly 50 Lakhs rupees. Lot of money, right?
8. Alibaba and its name
In 1999, he founded Alibaba with his 18 friends in his apartment. Initially the site was a business to business site. The name ‘Alibaba’ has a significance in itself as once he was in San Francisco in a coffee shop where he asked the waitress whether she knows about Alibaba to which she replied “Open Sesame”, phrase which Alibaba used to open the mouth of cave in which forty thieves had hidden the treasure. Jack Ma then asked about Alibaba to 30 other people on the street to which all answered in affirmative. This is how he named Alibaba.
9. First Investment
In 1999, when people in China didn’t had telephones and no infrastructure at all, going to people and asking them to invest several thousand dollars on thing called Internet was like selling magic beans to someone. He was rejected by 30 venture capitalists but he never gave up.
“We believed that if we don’t succeed, somebody else will.” – Jack Ma
Once in Beijing Masayoshi Son of SoftBank was meeting lot of Internet entrepreneurs which presented detailed Business plans where Jack Ma stood and told him his vision. Masayoshi was so amazed that he got ready to invest 40 million dollars which Jack turned down and said that he needed only 20 million dollars.
10. E-bay Challenge
Soon in 2003, Jack Ma founded Taobao but at the same time E-bay an American e-commerce company entered Chinese market and offered to buy Taobao but Ma rejected the offer. At the same time Yahoo supported Alibaba by investing One billion dollars. Taobao worked with most local banks of China whereas E-bay only had online payments through PayPal, credit card and some debit card of local banks. Soon E-bay was wiped out by Taobao of Chinese market.
11. The Vast Empire
‘Alibaba’ which if you didn’t know by now is a Chinese multinational e-commerce retail Internet AI and technology conglomerate that has over 50,000 employees and more than Six billion dollars net worth today. The group has millions of customers and ships all over the world and a wide range of products besides taking care of his empire the billionaire is invited to conferences and summits all over the World where he shares his story and gives business advice. The main three e-commerce websites he heads are Alibaba, Taobao and Tmall.
Today Alibaba has business of Cloud Computing, Online Video Streaming, Movie Production, Health Care, Sports, Retail and even News media.
A family which used to survive on $7 a month to now being World’s 20th richest man. The journey is an inspiration to all. Want to start something? but still afraid then as Jack Ma says,
“You will never learn to swim until you’re in the water.”