China’s richest Man Jack Ma, has announced to step down as executive chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba on his 54th birthday earlier this month. The inspirational Jack Ma who grew from a poor background to the richest entrepreneur, the founder of China’s biggest tech company, will not go for a retirement, instead, he will pursue his long lasting dream to be a teacher!
A mammoth empire of net worth $40.5 billion makes Jack Ma one of the richest and a statute person on the planet. An active speaker on global conferences, Jack Ma advocates globalization and eagerly interacts with other world leaders.
Ma was not too happy with the newly inflamed trade war between US and China and warned about its adversities . He stressed that “it’s going to be a mess” lasting decades probably. Ma originally planned 1 million jobs in the US, after meeting Trump in January 2017, which now seems “completely destroyed” after the recent actions.
Alibaba will steer into a new era after Jack Ma, who founded the company in a small apartment and out grew it into a $420 billion company making it a leading tech company of the world.
Ma’s considers becoming China’s biggest mogul as a “Hollywood story,” as mentioned in an interview for The New York Times in a 2005.
Early Life and Career
Ma was born to a poor family in 1964 in the eastern city of Hangzhou with a population of almost 10 million people.
Ma was a lean but active kid getting into fights with his class fellows. The kids teased him for his bony structure but he was always steady, as he recalls in his book Alibaba, quoting .
“I was never afraid of opponents who were bigger”. Jack Ma
Ma was eager to learn English for which he offered tours to the foreigners in exchange for the lessons. He also bought a radio to listed to the English broadcast like voice of America. The nickname ‘Jack’ was also given to him by a tourist, eventually sticking to his name.
Ma applied for college after finishing his school. In China’s collage entrance program, he failed twice due to his lower marks in Maths. He finally made it through in his third try and ultimately graduated from the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute in 1988.
After college, Ma would apply for jobs here and there but was rejected rejected from all of them. Those included a shot at KFC, a position on the police force, and another as a waiter at local restaurant. Ma learnt a life lesson “to get used to failure” that would help him in his future entrepreneurial journey . At last he was hired on a little salary of $12 a month as an English teacher in a college. Ma loved the job despite the low income he made out of it.
Ma visited the US in 1995 where he discovered the Internet. Coming back, Ma quit teaching and launched his first venture: China Pages, borrowing some money. It was his first internet business as well as China’s first commercial website, but according to The New York Times he was pressurised by the government to merge with Hangzhou Telecom.
Alibaba and the Rise to Fame
Ma survived the trauma and came up with his next venture four years later. He held a meeting of his 17 friends in his apartments and convinced them to invest in his online marketplace Ali Baba.
Together they raised roughly $60,000 for Alibaba.com, a platform for Chinese exporters, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs to list and sell their items worldwide. Reportedly, Ma conceived the name ‘Ali Baba’ in a San Francisco coffee shop, inspired by the famous Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves story in which Ali Baba overheard the password to unlock the treasure.
The venture attracted and raised big money within a few months of its inception, notably $5 million from Goldman Sachs and $20 million from Japanese telecom company SoftBank.
The company started turning profit and also survived the dot-com crash. Ali Baba introduced Taobao.com in 2003, a bartering marketplace competing eBay. The former tech powerhouse Yahoo was also attracted to its growth and bought a a 40% stake of Ali baba for $1 billion in 2005.
Ever since, Ali Baba has bursted and grew millions of customers to become one of the largest tech companies of the world. It helps merchants to sell everything from luxury goods to fresh groceries. The company went public in 2014 and raised $25 billion on Wall St. , making it the world’s largest initial public offering.
Ali Baba is an umbrella to many businesses as a tech investor. Like its competitor Amazon, it has opened its wings to video streaming, online payment platforms, and cloud services, a few in many of its businesses.
End of an Era
Ma will stay on the company’s board until 2020. He will pass his executive chairman duties to chief executive Daniel Zhang. Daniel has held many senior positions in the company before this, including senior management positions. Ma addressed to his customers, employees and shareholders in a letter stating “No company can rely solely on its founders”.
Ma had stepped down as chief executive in 2013 and was devotedly involved in other ventures. The projects included a Charity Foundation in 2014 and a kung fu movie. The Jack Ma Foundation is a footstep of Bill Gates’ foundation, Jack Ma wants it to play its role for an improved education, environment, and public health sectors.
The energetic Jack Ma is all set to go back to his dream job of being a teacher.
Jack’s mantra is ‘I am young and I have many dreams to pursue’.
Ma’s retirement is not a surprise as such since he has expressed the idea in many of his interviews. Duncan Clark, author of Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, has also mentioned it in his writing.