The Biography of Jack Ma: Business, Early life and Net Worth

"On the path to success, you will notice that the successful ones are not whiners, nor do they complain often."


Most renown billionaires had at least a good start which enabled them to pursue their goals worth millions of dollars, but not Jack Ma. Jack Ma had a humble background which didn't provide him with many options, nonetheless, he never relented in his academic and career pursuit even after failing and getting rejected several times. He worked very hard to earn all he has, today, he is the richest man in China, a business magnate, investor, politician, and a philanthropist. He is the co-founder and former executive chairman of the Alibaba conglomerate with a net worth of $41.3 billion as of May 27, 2020. He ranks No. 22 in the 2020 Forbes World's Billionaires list. He is also a politician with the Communist Party of China.


Early Life and education

‘Jack’ Ma Yun was born on the 10th of September 1964 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China. Being a native Chinese speaker, he had a keen interest in learning the English language as a child. He spent nine years of his life, giving tourists tours, and using the opportunities to converse with them to learn English. He eventually became pen pals with one of the tourists who would later rename him 'Jack' because his name was hard to pronounce.

He eventually attended and graduated from the Hangzhou Teacher's Institute with a B.A in English Language. He further pursued his dream in the English language by pursuing a career as a lecturer of English and International Trade at Hangzhou where he earned $12 monthly.


  Career History

Ma had a pretty rough history getting through his education and pursuing a befitting career. He has applied for a total of 30 jobs and got accepted by none of them. The most popular of his job rejection was KFC, “I even went to KFC when it newly came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted—I was the only guy who wasn’t.” Rejection had become a part of Ma, but he never gave up, he was always willing to try again. Even after failing at his initial two businesses. He later had this to say about his failures, “Well, I think we have to get used to it. We’re not that good.”

In 1994, Ma started his first business venture, the Hangzhou Haibo Translation Agency which didn’t last a long while. In 1995, Ma was opportune to visit the U.S. for a Government project concerned with the building of highways. It was on that visit that for the first time Ma got to know about the internet and computers. The first word he searched for on the internet was ‘beer’, search results for other countries appeared by China wasn’t among. He also searched for general information about China but found none. Computers were quite expensive and limited in China, but the internet was yet to get to China. After taking a peek at the magic of the internet and computers, a business idea struck him and he decided it was time to bring China up-to-date.

With the help of a friend, Ma managed to build a below-par website related to China. After the website launch, he still managed to receive emails from a couple of Chinese investors who were willing to get involved with his idea. Determined to go even further into the internet business, Ma and his friend, a computer teacher set up an office for 'China Pages' which then became his second business venture. The company had a registered domain name,, and my 1998 had made a fortune of 5,000,000 Chinese Yuan equivalent to $800,000 at the time.

Unlike most tech entrepreneurs who had foundational knowledge in computer and software programming, Jack Ma had only a little foundational understanding of computers. He had no experience in coding. But he had the determination and courage to take up a business in that aspect and he has continually soared. This, however, didn't stop Ma from pursuing his career dreams. With the help of his friends in the U.S. Ma started building websites for Chinese companies. In a 2010 interview, Ma revealed that he had really never written a line of code or even made a sale to any customer. He got his first computer when he was 33.

After heading an information technology company established by the China International Electronic Commerce Center from 1998 to 1999, Ma quit the role and went back to Hangzhou to found his next company. He had thought of an e-commerce business and persuaded 17 of his friends to be a part of the new venture which he named Alibaba. The idea behind Alibaba was to create a site/platform where exporters could post product listings for customers to buy directly. It was only a matter of time before Alibaba began to get global attention, though the initial funds for the startup were not available at the inception. By October 1999, the business was able to raise a total of $25 million from SoftBank ($20 million) and Goldman Sachs ($5 million) in 1999. Asides raising funds, the second challenge Ma faced at the creation of Alibaba was convincing people that online payment systems and transfers were a lot safer and conducive compared to traditional payment systems.

Alibaba gained more recognition globally and gradually earned the trust of the people about using online payment systems. In exchange for a 40% stake in Alibaba, Yahoo invested $1 billion in the company in 2005. The offer was accepted by Alibaba who at that time was focused on beating eBay in China. In turn, Yahoo was going to get about $10 billion from Alibaba's IPO asides other profits.

The Alibaba IPO of $25 billion broke the record of the largest e-commerce IPO ever, beating Amazon and eBay combined. The company earned another IPO of $150 billion which made it become the largest offering for a US-listed company so far in the history of the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange).

In 2013, Ma stepped down from his post as Alibaba CEO and moved on to become the executive chairman.


Having only a Bachelor’s degree in English language, Jack Ma retired from being executive chairman of Alibaba on the account of returning to school and pursuing other interests. After recording several successes, Ma had this to say about the journey so far in an interview with CBNC (September 19, 2014), "Today what we got is not money. What we got is the trust of the people."

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