Jack Ma’s inspiration for Alibaba came from the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad 

Jack Ma, the infamous tech leader is seen as an epitome of  success, but who inspired Jack Ma? Surprisingly, it’s the current Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad. 

In a recent visit to Malaysia, Jack Ma disclosed to the media how the Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s vision for a tech-based business revolution for his country inspired Jack Ma to try something similar in the Chinese Tech arena.

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Ma was captivated by Mahathir’s “Multimedia Super Corridor,” or MSC program presented in a newspaper some 20 years ago to uplift Malaysia as a futuristic country.

In his recent visit to Putrajaya, Malaysia, Ma said that his inspiration was ‘MSC’.

Recalling 1995, Jack Ma said when he was starting ‘China Pages’- the first internet company in China, he was still unclear how and where to move forward with the newly adapted technology. ‘I wondered how internet and digital technology can strengthen an economy and its people.

Fortune struck and Jack Ma read Dr Mahathir’s Multimedia Super Corridor idea in a newspaper. ‘’Wow! This is a genius idea. How can this happen?'” he gasped.

“In 1997, when I read this news in China, I said to myself: If Malaysia could do it, why not China can? If this thing can work, why not I get started at my place?”

“ So, Alibaba’s inspiration came through MSC of Malaysia and I am thankful to the Prime Minister for this ultimate idea”.

Chinese tech joint’s 33 years old founder Jack Ma was inspired by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who was then seen as a visionary leader of Malaysia, taking the Asian country to the new heights in business and technology.

Within two years, Jack Ma started Alibaba alongwith his three other co-founders and is now known as one of the world’s largest online retailers.

Mahathir presented his idea of MSC in 1996, he was the PM of Malaysia till 2003 and is elected again as the country’s PM in his recent victory in May. Jack Ma is the first tech leader to visit the country, as announced by the Malaysian National News Agency, Bernama.

Ma said he would continue to look up to the PM as his inspiration in coming days.

“My understanding of technology is very low, and whenever I talk to him, I  sense that I need to go back to the book”, Ma laughed.

Besides Ma and Mahatir, the other most influential leaders like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Arianna Huffington also emphasize on the role of book reading to become successful. Gates has also gifted one of his favorite book to U.S. college grads this year.

The article originally appeared on CNBC

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Written by Hisham Sarwar


That is all you ever need to know about me but let me warn you, freelancing for me is a journey, certainly not a destination :)