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Jack Ma

Jack Ma

Jack Ma is a Chinese Entrepreneur & the Founder of Alibaba.

Jack Ma, originally Ma Yun, (born September 10, 1964, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China), Chinese entrepreneur who was head of the Alibaba Group, which comprised several of China’s most popular Web sites, including the business-to-business marketplace and the shopping site

Since a very young age, Jack was keen on gathering knowledge about English and tried his best to communicate better in the language. His desire to speak English encouraged him to visit a hotel frequented by English-speaking foreigners.

He studied it daily, practiced talking with foreigners at the Hangzhou hotel, traveled daily, about an hour by bicycle, to get to that hotel. For 9 long years, he became a tour guide in exchange for practicing his English, a circumstance that, by maintaining a friendship by correspondence, gave him a nickname that came from his friend. Jack was his nickname, it was easier for his foreign friends than his real name.

He entered Hangzhou Normal University to study English. He graduated in 1988 with a B.A. in English.

Early career

According to Ma's autobiographical speech, after graduating from Hangzhou Normal University in 1988, Ma applied for 31 different odd jobs and was rejected by every one. "I went for a job with the KFC; 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 [rejected]...". During this period, China was in its first decade of Deng Xiaoping's Chinese economic reform.

From 1988 to 1993 he taught English at the Hangzhou Institute of Electronics and Engineering (now Hangzhou Dianzi University). In 1994 he founded his first company, the Haibo Translation Agency, which provided English translation and interpretation.

On a trip to the United States on behalf of the Hangzhou city government in 1995, Ma had his first encounter with the Internet and saw the lack of Chinese Web sites as a great business opportunity. On his return, he founded China Pages, which created Web sites for Chinese businesses and was one of China’s first Internet companies. He left the company two years later. From 1998 to 1999 Ma was head of an Internet company in Beijing that was backed by 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 won a total of a $25 million foreign venture capital investment from Goldman Sachs and Softbank. 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. Alibaba became profitable three years later. 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 gathering support from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang with a $1 billion investment.

In 2003 Ma created a new company, the consumer-to-consumer online marketplace Taobao (Chinese: “searching for treasure”). At the time, the American company eBay, in collaboration with the Chinese company EachNet, had a market share of 80 percent, but Ma felt that eBay-EachNet’s policy of charging users a transaction fee was a weakness.Ma’s intuition proved correct; by 2007 Taobao had a 67 percent market share, and eBay conceded majority ownership of its Chinese operations to the Chinese-language media company TOM Group, which created the subsidiary TOM EachNet. In 2011 Ma announced that Taobao would split into three companies: Taobao Marketplace, where individuals could buy and sell goods; Taobao Mall, an online shopping portal; and eTao, a shopping-related search engine.

In September 2014 the Alibaba Group debuted an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange that raised $21.8 billion. That IPO was the largest ever in the United States and gave the company a market value of $168 billion, the highest such value in IPO history at that time for any Internet company. In September 2018 it was announced that Ma would step down as chairman of Alibaba the following year, though he would remain on the board.

Entertainment career

In 2017, Ma made his acting debut with his first kung fu short film Gong Shou Dao. It was filmed in collaboration with the Double 11 Shopping Carnival Singles' Day. In the same year, he also participated in a singing festival and performed dances during Alibaba's 18th-anniversary party.

In November 2020, in the finale of Africa’s Business Heroes, Ma was replaced as a judge in the television show, with Alibaba executive Peng Lei taking his place, reportedly "Due to a schedule conflict".

Personal Life & Legacy

Jack Ma tied the knot with a woman named Zhang Ying, whom he had first met while studying at the ‘Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute.’ Zhang played an important role in initiating Jack’s first business venture.

The couple is blessed with three children.

Net Worth

According to ‘Forbes,’ Jack’s net worth was estimated to be around $25.3 billion as of 2022.


September 10, 2019
Jack Ma steps down as chairman of Alibaba.
September 10, 1964
Jack Ma was born in Hangzhou.

Invested in


Further Resources



October 12, 2021
The Economic Times
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Venus Feng | Bloomberg
August 4, 2021
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