Jack Ma: Embarking on a New Journey


Every failure is the stepping stone of success. A man who is a living example for this age old proverb, Jack Ma (Ma Yun), co-founder & executive chairman of Alibaba, has bid a whimpering adieu to his dream company ‘Alibaba Group’. On his 55th birthday, Jack sported a rock star wig and clenching a guitar announced his retirement misty eyed. Addressing the farewell gathering, Jack said, “After tonight, I will start a new life. I do believe the world is good, there are so many opportunities, and I love excitement so much, which is why I will retire early”. The former English teacher aspires to engage himself with the philanthropic works focusing predominantly on rural education. The company’s CEO Daniel Zhang would step into his shoe.

Inspiring Failures…

Failures are quite de-motivating and would even trigger any individual to give up, but Jack has a different story to tell. One would not believe the number of failures and rejections the billionaire had faced on his journey from rags to riches. It is very startling to know Jack failed thrice in his schooling; and it took him four years to clear his entrance exam to join Hangzhou Normal University for his graduation. His application to Harvard Business School was also rejected not just once, but 10 times. Besides academics, the notable business tycoon of China has also faced rejection during his job hunt phase, again this has occurred over 30 different job profiles varying from police force to KFC. After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in English, Jack took up a lecturer role at Hangzhou Dianzi University with a pay of just $12 per month.

Stepping into Entrepreneurship

Jack was time and again tested on his perseverance; post his decision to venture into entrepreneurship, his two initial ventures failed yet again. But nothing could stop a determined Jack, who doesn’t consider failure as an end, but an opportunity to learn and bounce back. In 1995, on this official trip to US, Jack was introduced to internet and computer, which was just taking its baby steps. While trying his hands on the internet browser, he was struck with the reality that there was no trace of China in any of his search results. This provoked Jack to influence his 18 friends to join him and invest in the e-Commerce market site ‘Alibaba’, which was set up in his apartment in 1999.

Alibaba initially had no other outside investments, but in 2000 it won $25 million foreign venture capital investment twice. Later in 2014, the company went on to rise over $25 billion in an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Gaining public confidence on online payment and safe package deliveries are the major challenges every e-Commerce sites face, but it seems like Jack has achieved it with ease. In addition to this, intending to develop the global e-Commerce system, Jack went on to establish Taobao Marketplace, Alipay, Ali Mama and Lynx. Starting from the scratch, the company has reached a greater height globally holding a net worth of $35.6 billion, which has also elevated Jack status as one among the richest men in China.

Awards & Appreciations

Over the period of time, Jack has been bombarded with several awards. Few prominent awards amongst them are Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 awarded by Asian Awards, he was ranked second by Fortune on its World’s 50 Greatest Leaders list in 2017. The same year Jack was ranked third in a KPMG survey – a global tech innovation visionary survey. Further, he was presented honorary degree of Doctor of Science in Technopreneurship from De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines. In 2018, Jack received an honorable doctoral degree from professors Yaakov Frenkel and Yaron Oz at the Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel. Lately in May 2019, The Un Secretary – General Guterres appointed Jack as new advocate for sustainable development goals along with 16 other influential global personalities.

After accomplishing his dream by working on it for about two decade, the humble Jack with the hope to achieve much through his philanthropic departed with the statement, “It is not easy to be a strong company, but it is more difficult to be a good company”. He further adds, “A strong company is determined by its commercial ability, while a good company is responsible and kind”. 

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