Jack Ma, founder of Ali Baba, a cosplayer of Michael Jackson, and definitely richer than all your mothers. However, who is he, really?
Rags to riches
Born during the era of Communist China, his family wasn’t wealthy. As Asians, our parents often go on about how education is the key to success. However, Jack Ma wasn’t academically inclined either; In fact, he failed the entrance exam to college twice! Through determination, he would cycle to his city’s main hotel and give tours to tourists to improve his English.
Funnily enough, he was named “Jack” by a foreigner who couldn’t pronounce his name. After college, he went through a series of job rejections before working as an English teacher.
How did Alibaba come about?
In 1995, he went to the US with his friends and discovered the wonders of the internet. However, the internet was an extremely foreign technology in China (you know, because of Communism) which sparked his determination to start up an internet company in China. He went through a series of businesses (which weren’t very successful) before gathering his friends to start up Alibaba, the establishment that’ll eventually lead to his success today.
1. Net Worth
With a net worth of 35.9 billion USD, he’s richer than Singapore’s top 3 richest combined, which include the Ng Brothers ($11.9B), Eduardo Saverin ($11.8B) and Goh Cheng Liang($8.5B).
Apart from achieving international Wealth God status, he has received various honorary degrees from different universities for his contributions to society. It wasn’t just for his wealth or technological advancement though!
He is one of the world’s most powerful people according to Forbes as an Ambassador for Chinese Business and proved to be an inspiration for start-ups internationally.
3. He got rejected multiple times
If you’ve ever been rejected in a job interview, know that there will be greater opportunities waiting for you out there. After all, the world is your oyster, and you deserve to eat the best quality oysters with premium Tabasco sauce.
Apart from failing his entrance exams twice before admitting into Hangzhou Teachers Institute, he was also rejected from Harvard 10 times! What kind of determination does a man have to apply to Harvard 10 times?! He even started his own university in 2008 known as Alibaba Business School, a campus that has taught millions of entrepreneurs from all over the world.
4. Charity Work
Despite his wealth, he has distributed his assets to various organisations and causes. This year, Jack Ma Foundation initiated a program known as Netpreneur Prize, which will award USD$10 million to 100 Africa entrepreneur to support potential young Africans and their innovations. The Jack Ma Foundation was created in 2014 as an organisation which supports global innovation, human development and environmental awareness.
In fact, back in 2010, Forbes Asia granted him the title of “Asia’s Heroes of Philanthropy” for his contribution to disaster relief and poverty.
5. Number of Employees
As of this year, there are currently 66,421 employees working for Alibaba. That’s close to SAF’s active strength which is estimated to be around 71,600 personnel!
6. Alibaba Campus
Just like the Google campus, it’s known for its rest pods and quirky designs, Alibaba Campus represents the spirit of its company with its individuality as well. Jack Ma incorporated elements of martial art within the campus through designs, life-sized figurines and even within the company culture.
Do you know that every employee has a personal nickname associated with their favourite heroes? If you call yourself Thor, everyone in the office will acknowledge you as Thor, even during meetings and emails! For Jack Ma, he named himself Feng Qingyang, a name derived from a novel by his favourite Hong Kong-based author, Jin Yong.
Alibaba sits within the Hangzhou’s Xixi district, occupying around 260,000m2 of land. (Which is equivalent to x3 of NUS size)
*NUS = 10000 m2
7. Alibaba 11/11 Sales
Last year’s Singles Day a.k.a Global Shopping Festival, Alibaba broke its yearly record again, amounting to 25.3 Billion USD in 24 hours (equivalent to $34.7 Billion in SGD)! That’s a 42% increase as compared to 2016. Comparing with Ebay’s net revenue which is estimated to be around USD$9.7 billion in 2017, that’s more than triple the sales of eBay in one day!
Although the origins of Singles Day was created by a group of college students, Alibaba has turned the occasion into a yearly event where products on Alibaba are lowered for a really good bargain. Over the years, more and more people from all over the world have jumped on the bandwagon and thus 11 November is officially known as the Global Shopping Festival.
F.Y.I: Do you know that back in 2005, Yahoo invested $1 billion in Alibaba for 40% stake? Looks like Yahoo have scored JACKpot!
As an avid Tai Chi lover, Jack Ma made a movie called Gong Shou Dao 功守道 to promote Chinese Kungfu, featuring action movie stars like Donnie Yen and Jet Li! Interestingly, all the actors are not paid; Instead, they volunteered for this film with a common goal: To promote Chinese culture in hopes to reach out to the international stage.
You can watch the movie here!
Despite his humble background, Jack Ma has grinded his way to the top through multiple failures. Let him be an inspiration that regardless of the obstacles you have and will eventually face, you can bring honour to your family and reach the peak too!
*All of the above information is correct as of the publication date.