As the face of Alibaba, Jack Ma is one of the most successful and well-known businessmen in the world. His story is full of failure and determination and few in the business world match his charisma.
As he’s set to retire from Alibaba on his 55th birthday in 2019, let’s take a look back at some of the most interesting and inspirational Jack Ma facts in this brand new video from Kr-Asia’s YouTube channel.
Be sure to visit the page and hit subscribe for a deep dive into China’s exciting tech scene.
1. He was one of the earliest people in China to connect to the internet
At a time when China wasn’t even connected to the internet and many Chinese weren’t aware of its existence, Ma recognized its potential.
2. He was “kidnapped” on his first trip to Los Angeles
According to a Newsweek article titled “China’s New Rock-Star CEOs”, during Ma’s first visit to the U.S., he was sent to help retrieve a debt for a friend from an American businessman but things turned sour when the American allegedly pulled a gun on Ma and held him against his will..
3. His first ever internet search was for beer
A friend in Seattle let him use the internet for the first time.
4. When Ma was growing up, there were no English classes available
To learn English, Ma listened to radio broadcasts and offered free tours to foreigners at the Hangzhou Hotel in exchange for English lessons.
5. A tourist gave Ma his English name
A tourist in Hangzhou had difficulty pronouncing Ma Yun and gave him the name Jack.
6. The first company that Jack Ma founded was a translation agency
The Hangzhou Hope Translation Agency was established in 1994. It was through this agency that Ma first got the chance to work with foreign businesses that were operating in China.
7. Ma has intimate experience with rejection and failure
Ma didn’t perform well in school and failed the college entrance exam twice. He claims to have been rejected by Harvard ten times. When applying for a job at KFC, he was the only one out of 24 applicants to be denied a job.
8. He looks up to Forrest Gump
Ma has used the film Forrest Gump as inspiration and has often expressed admiration for the title character.
9. He field-tested the name Alibaba on the streets of San Francisco
Ma asked random people on the streets of San Francisco if they knew of Ali Baba, from the folk tale Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. They all knew of the name and story and Ma decided it was a good name. Also, it starts with “A” so it will always be on top.
10. He was one of Taobao’s first customers
When Taobao first launched, it had no users. Ma and Taobao’s founders bought and sold their own things on the platform to get things rolling and inspire confidence.
11. He doesn’t have a technical background
Ma doesn’t know how to code. In a 2010 interview with Charlie Rose, Ma admitted he only really uses the computer to do simple web browsing and email.
12. Ma is a performer at heart
At Alibaba’s company celebration events throughout the years, Ma has dressed up in outlandish costumes and performed by singing and dancing to pop songs. He’s also really into martial arts and has “defeated” notable action stars including the likes of Donnie Yen and Jet Li.
What will Jack Ma be up to after Alibaba? Will he star in another kung fu film? Start another business? Or will he go back to teaching? With Ma being so comfortable in the spot light, it won’t be long until we find out.