How Jack Ma built an internet giant

cnbc (source) :

01: The rock star billionaire

It is hard to find the words to describe the scale of Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce business founded in 1999. It’s probably best exemplified by the numbers: Every single day, 200 million people shop on Alibaba’s mobile sites and it sold $550 billion worth of merchandise in its last fiscal year.

In May, Alibaba Group announced annual revenues had gone up 56 percent to almost $23 billion, and in June investors literally gasped as it upped its growth forecast for 2017 from 45 percent to 49 percent. Its 2014 initial public offering (IPO) was the largest in history, raising $25 billion on the New York stock exchange.

At the head of it all is Ma Yun, the 53-year-old entrepreneur known as Jack Ma, who started the company with 17 others and $50,000 in his apartment in Hangzhou, a mid-sized city near China’s east coast, known for its green hills and West Lake.

“What Jack Ma has been able to accomplish is nothing short of astounding. It’s as impressive, as or more impressive, than the works of Messrs Bezos, Zuckerberg and Musk.”
Gil Luria, director of research at DA Davidson Co.

But Ma’s childhood was frugal: he was born to a family that had very little, sharing an income of just $7 a month between six. He was 6-years-old when President Richard Nixon met Chairman Mao Zedong in 1972, a “geopolitical earthquake” event which opened up China to the U.S. and led to it becoming the world power it is today. It was also the start of Ma’s Chinese dream.

2013

The Cainiao Network is launched by Alibaba and partners, a logistics system that now ships 55 million packages a day

Alibaba’s e-commerce

Includes Alibaba.com, Taobao.com and Tmall.com. The group’s combined Chinese commerce businesses had 466 million annual active consumers as of June 30, up 12 million in three months.

His journey from rags to rock star billionaire – Ma appeared on stage dressed as Michael Jackson at Alibaba’s 18th birthday party in September 2017 in front of an audience of 40,000 – is beset with failure and rejection. Ma said he was a “loser” in his thirties, insists he isn’t a tech expert and was rejected from a job at KFC and as a hotel waiter and was turned down three times when he applied to university. He also claims to have little tech expertise.

“The whole time I worked with him, he always described himself as a tech dummy. And he always said the only two things he could do were emails and use a browser to surf the internet. So he’s definitely not a tech guy,” former Alibaba Vice President Porter Erisman told CNBC’s “The Brave Ones.”

Ma’s secret? His understanding of the power of the internet in putting buyers and sellers together, and his obsession with helping small companies, via eBay-like marketplace Taobao, bulk supplier 1688.com and Alibaba.com, a business-to-business site for wholesalers. The group also has marketing services and a financial lending affiliate including PayPal-like Alipay, which has 520 million users around the world.

Other ventures include a 51 percent stake in delivery company Cainiao, which ships an astonishing 55 million packages a day, and Alibaba Pictures, a joint venture with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners.

“What Jack Ma has been able to accomplish is nothing short of astounding. It’s as impressive, as or more impressive, than the works of Messrs (Jeff) Bezos, (Mark) Zuckerberg and (Elon) Musk,” Gil Luria, director of research at DA Davidson Co, told CNBC by phone. Ma’s net worth is now an estimated $39 billion.

 

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