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  • Jack Ma is Asia's richest man

  • and most recognizable business tycoon.

  • He's the chairman of Alibaba.

  • China's E-commerce giant

  • and one of the 10 largest companies in the world.

  • Yet he still wants more.

  • We know where we're going,

  • we want to be the fifth largest economy.

  • Big words from the man some call Asia's Jeff Bezos.

  • He's confident, he's charismatic

  • and he's definitely not the average CEO.

  • [music]

  • This is how a poor school teacher

  • went from the classroom, to being one

  • of the most influential multi-billionaires in the world.

  • (lighthearted music)

  • Ma was born in China's southeastern city, Hangzhou, in 1964.

  • His parents were traditional musician storytellers.

  • As a teenager, he started to learn English

  • from foreign tourists,

  • after China opened up in the late 1970's.

  • And then for nine years, Jack Ma,

  • hung around outside the Hangzhou Hotel,

  • which is now called the Shangri-La.

  • He would get up at five a.m.

  • to talk to travelers.

  • That's Bloomberg Technology reporter, Lulu Chen.

  • And I cover China internet for Bloomberg.

  • Ma failed China's National University

  • entrance exam twice

  • before being admitted to Local Teachers College.

  • He graduated in 1988.

  • He applied for 30 jobs and got rejected.

  • Including from the fast food giant, KFC.

  • When KFC come to China,

  • 24 people went for the job.

  • 23 people were accepted, I was the only one guy.

  • Then Ma got a job at a local university

  • and taught English there for about five years

  • earning just $15 dollars a month.

  • On the side, he started a translation company

  • with several friends.

  • During a company trip to the U.S in 1995,

  • Ma had his first encounter with the internet,

  • at a friend's place in Seattle.

  • I searched the first word: beer.

  • I don't know why, because easy to spell, maybe.

  • And I see beers from Germany,

  • beers from U.S.A, beers from Japan.

  • But there's no beer from China.

  • So he searched for the word China instead

  • and still couldn't find anything.

  • And that got him thinking,

  • he wanted to build something

  • that would put China on the world's map.

  • He started China Pages,

  • a Yellow Pages like website, but it didn't take off.

  • Then Ma joined a government agency

  • in Beijing to help set up a website.

  • By 1999, the internet stock boom

  • had gripped Wall Street.

  • And back in his Hangzhou apartment,

  • Ma decided to try again.

  • With his wife and a group of friends,

  • Ma raised $80,000 dollars,

  • and set up Alibaba, a site that allowed businesses

  • to sell stuff to each other.

  • By 2000, Alibaba had raised $25 million dollars

  • from investors, including Goldman Sachs and SoftBank.

  • He had no business plan

  • and zero revenue,

  • but his eyes were very strong.

  • Strong eyes.

  • In 2003, Alibaba started Taobao,

  • a platform for individual sellers

  • to trade with each other

  • and publicly declared war against eBay,

  • who had started to make a foray into China.

  • Jack Ma has this famous saying

  • that Alibaba is a crocodile in the Yangtze River,

  • whereas eBay is a shark in the ocean.

  • And if they fight eBay in the ocean

  • then they'll lose,

  • but if they fight them in the Yangtze River

  • then they have a home base advantage.

  • In 2007, just one year

  • after it forced eBay out of China,

  • Alibaba debuted its business-facing division

  • on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

  • But it delisted five years later,

  • as its performance sagged.

  • In 2014, Alibaba raised $25 billion dollars

  • in the world's biggest IPO in New York.

  • Everybody should have a dream.

  • What if that dream comes true?

  • After achieving dominance

  • in the business of e-commerce in China,

  • Alibaba has been building

  • an internet empire worth $472 billion dollars

  • with businesses in cloud computing,

  • online video streaming, movie production,

  • healthcare, sports, retail, and even news media.

  • Alibaba buying into South China Morning Post

  • really raised eyebrows.

  • This is the largest English newspaper in Hong Kong.

  • And it shows that Jack Ma's ambitions

  • weren't limited to e-commerce.

  • He wanted to influence, not just Chinese users,

  • but also overseas users, as well.

  • (upbeat music)

  • The U.S. has criticized Alibaba, for allowing companies

  • to sell counterfeit and poorly made goods.

  • But in China, it enjoys the favor

  • of China's government.

  • It's part of Ma's company philosophy.

  • In love with the government,

  • but don't marry with them.

  • Jack Ma is an extremely fortunate man

  • for jumping on the internet sector so early.

  • Note that this is a person

  • who has no coding skills at all.

  • He's a natural showman and a gifted public speaker,

  • and really able to convince others

  • to believe in his vision.

  • Ma's vision of growing Alibaba

  • to be the world's fifth largest economy

  • faces strong competition at home and abroad.

  • It will require more than just naked ambition and charisma.

  • But Ma is great at getting himself

  • in the right place at the right time.

  • So far it's served him well.

Jack Ma is Asia's richest man

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Jack Ma: From KFC Reject to Asia's Richest Man

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    Rong Chiang posted on 2018/02/28
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