Jack Ma, born in the Chinese town of Hangzhou in 1964, is known for being the creator of the Alibaba sales portal. As an entrepreneur, he positions himself in favor of the free market economy.
Given his business background and the influence of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma is considered one of the most powerful and richest men in the world. Not only businesses occupy his activity, because he is also a prominent philanthropist and has been involved in the preservation of the environment.
The origins of an entrepreneur
Born in the city of Hangzhou, he soon began to study English. Precisely, he traveled several kilometers with his bicycle to the Hangzhou International Hotel to put his English into practice.
Despite not being an outstanding student, in 1988, after passing through the Hangzhou Teachers’ Institute, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in English. He later served as a professor of that language and also taught classes on international trade at Hangzhou University.
However, Jack Ma’s entrepreneurial vocation was soon awakened and in 1994 he created his first company under the name of Hangzhou Haibo. It was a translation company from Mandarin to the English language.
Later he traveled to the United States, where he was stunned by the technological and industrial development of the country. However, when looking for information on the Internet about his country, China, he was disappointed to find that there was hardly any information. It was time to make the leap to the Internet.
Jack Ma lands on the Internet
Upon his return from the United States, Jack Ma, obtaining the necessary financing thanks to a loan of 2,000 dollars, founded what would be the first Chinese Internet company. It was China Pages, a company that provided its users with information about Chinese companies.
However, the development of the Internet in China was insufficient and the network was highly controlled by the authorities. Therefore, Jack Ma decided that it was time to meet with the Government.
Ma ran into a very bureaucratic government, which interposed numerous obstacles to business activity. The Chinese authorities did not want to listen to a little-known businessman and English teacher.
Meanwhile, the state-owned Hangzhou Telecom began offering services virtually identical to those of China Pages. A planned threat to Ma’s business project. In view of this, China Pages associated with Hangzhou Telecom in order to survive, however, they ended up separating after a while due to the limited decision-making margin left to China Pages.
Jack Ma creates Alibaba
Two factors were to be decisive in Jack Ma’s business career: his experience both in China Pages and in his work for the Government, and the boom that .coms were experiencing in 1998.
Thus, in 1999, in the company of his team, Jack Ma launched the Alibaba project. The commercial name of the company was due to the fact that the public considered Alibaba a thief, when in fact it was a character who helped his people.
Jack Ma’s goal was to open a market to connect Chinese small and medium-sized businesses to international markets. Referring to the story of Alibaba and the 40 thieves, Ma’s company was to be like the magic words “open sesame”, as his company would open the global market to Chinese businesses.
By 1999, Alibaba was already a reality that saw the light of day at a gala in Hong Kong. Such was the appeal of Alibaba that even a bank like Goldman Sachs provided financing. Likewise, the Japanese telecommunications company Softbank contributed resources for Ma’s business project.
Alibaba was growing at a good pace, being a meeting point between Chinese exporting companies and foreign companies. However, this rapid growth was not accompanied by high returns.
the internet bubble
As Alibaba expanded, the .com bubble burst in the United States and Europe. In fact, companies on the Nasdaq crashed. Digital companies were beginning to arouse mistrust among investors.
Alibaba’s profitability remained low and its survival threatened. The crisis threatened to make the company disappear. Drastic measures were taken such as eliminating advertising expenses, downsizing and operating exclusively from China. Despite this, the viability of the company was still in doubt.
The establishment of a Premium service that allowed companies to appear in the most prominent places provided substantial income for Alibaba, which, already in 2002, was on the path to profitability.
Precisely, the digital companies that managed to survive the explosion of the .com managed to gain a firm foothold in the market and consolidate their power.
Alibaba emerges stronger
Boosting his business in electronic commerce, Jack Ma created the company Taobao and rejected the offer of the powerful Ebay, which wanted to acquire his company. After a long struggle with Ebay, Alibaba would come out stronger.
Alibaba’s rise continued unstoppable and in 2014 they made history after raising $25 billion in a public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. All this made Alibaba one of the most valuable technology companies in the world and made Jack Ma the richest man in China.
In September 2019, Jack Ma left his position as head of the Alibaba Group, although he continued to hold a stake in the company. Putting aside his business activity, Jack Ma turned to philanthropy, working for causes such as the defense of the environment, education, equality and health.