Jack Ma: The Investor Who Is Pushing For An Open Economy

Jack Ma

Showing nothing but true and concise business acumen whether it is in the business, investment, political or even philanthropic arenas has put Jack Ma at the top of his field. The Chinese billionaire who’s net worth stands at over $39 billion dollars is the executive chair and co-founder of the tech conglomerate Alibaba Group.

Ma is seen as a champion of the startup business and in 2015 he started the Alibaba Hong Kong Young Entrepreneurs Foundation. This is one of many philanthropically motivated ventures he has been responsible for. Billed as the unofficial ’Global Ambassador’ for Chinese business, Ma is a serious player in the world of tech investment, business and philanthropy.

About Jack Ma

Early Life

As a young boy who was born and raised in Hangzhou China, Ma leared English by picking up and practicing as much as he could from the customers at the Hotel he worked at. While working for the Hangzhou International Hotel Ma was known to ride 70 miles by bike in order to practice his English with tourists while showing them around the area. Ma would do this for nine years with one resulting ‘pen pal’ nicknaming him Jack because his Chinese name was too hard to pronounce.

Ma’s education seemed fraught with disappointment as he failed three times to pass the annually held Chinese college entrance exams. Passing on his fourth attempt Ma went on to attend the Hangzhou Normal Institute where he was awarded a Bachelor Of Arts in English. Ma would later teach English and International Trade at University level.

Brief History

Ma’s career began about as well as his education did with him being turned down for every job he applied for. It seemed like no one thought he had what it took and so the Police force and KFC both passed on chances to employ Ma. This would all change in 1994 with the arrival of the internet.

Ma was able to build on his knowledge of this burgeoning technology and he began making websites for Chinese businesses. Ma created the company China Pages with just $20,000 and in three years it has turned over more than $800,000. After a year heading up a tech company working within the Ministry Of Foreign Trade, Ma returned to his home of Hangzhou and started Alibaba.

Geographically

Ma is based in Hangzhou China where the vast majority of his business interests reside. The company which is said to be “Asia’s most valuable company” has come a long way from the one Ma started with his team of 18. Alibaba is now worth well over $400 billion has taken its remit well outside of the original business model and has turned its sights on the digital payment and cloud computing sectors. A large part of the company’s investment focus in recent years has been placed on Chinese Startup companies.

Significant Investments

From moderate beginnings of just half a million Yuan, Ma took Alibaba to unimagined heights of success. After twice winning totals of $25 million in venture capital from foreign investors, Ma moved the company in a direction that would make improvements to e-commerce market both foreign and domestic. 2003 saw Ma found the company Taobao Marketplace which eventually gained so much success that eBay showed interest. Ma eventually refused, choosing a $1 billion investment from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang instead. 

In 2015, Ma decided to increase spending to develop Alibaba’s overseas business in emerging markets. He did so in order to tap into China’s initiatives to develop cross-border economic and transportation corridors, such as the New Silk Road, with many of its neighboring countries, such as Russia.

Ma has publicly stated that he will be stepping down as both CEO and Chairman in order to follow his personal passion of teaching. He has handed the job over to his successor Daniel Zhang.

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