An empire of $ 160 billion

Mr Alibaba: The poor teacher who built an empire of $ 160 billion

It is the company that a few days ago made the biggest IPO in history and the incredible fortune of Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma.

It all began in 1995 when a former Chinese teacher named Jack Ma visited the US for the first time in his life. Some time ago, Ma had launched a translation company to exploit the boom in exports to China.

When he was in the US, besides the translation business, a friend showed him the Internet and told him everything could find them there. Then Ma decided to search for beer. He did not find a single result for China. Generally, China could not find anything at all on the Internet.

When he returned home, he decided to build the China Pages site, an index of various Chinese companies (such as our own Yellow Pages) who are looking for customers abroad, and some say it was the first Internet company in China.

China Pages was a failure. But four years later, Ma made the second attempt by launching an internet company called Alibaba. He currently owns 8.9% of the company, worth 14.5 billion dollars. while the entire company is valued at $ 160 billion. Ma is no longer Alibaba’s CEO. He is the president.

Ma was never a typical technology company CEO. She failed to attend the college entrance exam twice before she finally did. He founded a technological giant, although what he studied was to become a simple teacher. In the middle of 2000, when Alibaba was trying to overtake eBay in China, journalists called him “Crazy Jack” because of his lively way of talking but of his bold goals.

Ma was born in 1964 in Hangzhou province, near Shanghai, and, as he says, “I was fat when I was young, but I was a terrible fighter at the same time; I never frightened my strongest opponents.” Very often he was involved in quarrels with his classmates. They were mocking him because he was too short. However, she was very fond of foreign tourists. Every day he went to a nearby hotel where he could meet tourists and speak with them in English. He also bought a radio to listen to the English-speaking program and to practice.

He was never good at mathematics and his low grades deprived his introduction to the university. After two failures, he conquered, fought hard and passed on the third. He finally graduated in 1988 from the Teacher’s School in his hometown. He says he was dismissed many times by various employers, including KFC.

Eventually, he became an English teacher, taking $ 12 a month to a local university. In 1999 – when the Internet fever broke out in the US – Ma called 17 friends in his apartment and everything started there.

Alibaba.com created the site, allowing exporters to list their products and potential customers to browse and learn, and soon attracted interest at international level. By October 1999, the company had raised $ 5 million from Goldman Sachs and $ 20 million from Soft Bank, a Japanese company that also invests in technology companies. From there it began to take off.

After the IPO, Ma wrote a letter to the company’s employees, which was published by the Wall Street Journal:

“We survived because we were looking away and we had a brilliant strategy, or because we were running our program perfectly or because for 15 years we have been loyal to our mission and our belief that it is easier to make business in international waters or because we insisted that the most important is the customer or perhaps because we insist on believing in the future and that ordinary people can do amazing things. “

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