There’s a popular saying for all things good – “All good things must come to an end”. Though it hurts, it is true that nothing lasts forever, and such is the way of life. Starting from the bottom, Jack Ma rose to become a Chinese tycoon, and one of the richest people on the planet. He, however, chose to step down as the executive chairman of Alibaba, recently.
While Ma plans to remain on Alibaba’s board until 2020, over the next 12 months he will pass his executive chairman duties to chief executive Daniel Zhang – who has previously held a variety of senior management positions. “No company can rely solely on its founders,” Ma said in a letter to customers, employees and shareholders.
Here we bring to you a few interesting facts about the man who created Alibaba, one of the most powerful tech companies on the Globe, and the tech giant itself.
A young fighter
Jack Ma started learning English at a young age when he would cycle for 70 miles to work as a tour guide. It is by conversing with these tourists that he improved his English speaking skills. The name “Jack” was given to him by one of these tourists who eventually became his pen pal, and found it difficult to pronounce his first name.
From facing rejection to creating jobs
Jack’s life was riddled with struggles throughout. He had applied for 30 jobs and got rejected by each of the employers. Even at KFC, he was the only applicant who did not make it in the batch of 24 applicants. Harvard Business School had rejected his application ten times! This is the struggle of the founder of Alibaba, a tech giant which has created over 30 million jobs!
Losing his first creation
In 1995, Jack Ma visited the United States and discovered the Internet. It was then that he quit his teaching career to launch China’s first commercial website. His success was however short-lived after the Chinese Government took control of the website.
The birth of a giant
Four years after losing his website, Jack gathered 17 of his friends and convinced them to invest in the idea of an online marketplace; $60,000. This platform would allow Chinese entrepreneurs, manufacturers, and exporters to post listings for international buyers.
More than just a shopping platform
Today, Alibaba is where you can buy anything, from fresh groceries to the trendiest of gadgets. Now, you can also avail video streaming, online payment platforms, and cloud services, thanks to its competition with Amazon.
Where it all began
Jack came up with the name “Alibaba” at a coffee shop in San Francisco, when he thought of how Ali Baba unlocked the treasures after overhearing the password to the cave, from the 40 thieves. This is what inspired him – to show the world what his ideas are worth.
Raising money overseas
Alibaba raised $5 million from Goldman Sachs and $20 million from the Japanese company Softbank. After surviving the crash of dot com, the company spawned Taobao.com, which took on eBay as it’s the main competitor. In 2014, the company raised $25 million on Wall Street, which was the world’s largest initial public offering ever.
A caring soul
Since stepping down as chief executive in 2013, Ma devoted his time to other projects, including starting a charity in 2014 and even performing in a kung fu movie. He hopes to follow the footsteps of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates by devoting more attention to his Jack Ma Foundation, dedicated to improving education, the environment, and public health.
A distinguished individual
Jack Ma has had an illustrious career, having been recognized as a young global leader by the World Economic Forum amongst many prestigious awards and honorary degrees. Despite the enormous success, Jack Ma has always remained humble and soft-spoken.
Back where it all started
Earlier this month, on his 54th birthday, Jack Ma announced that he would step down as executive chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba. The rags-to-riches entrepreneur behind China’s biggest tech company isn’t going to retire because of obvious reasons. He wants to be a teacher again.
Such a story proves that nothing is impossible and that there is no “right moment” we need to wait for. The time is now.