Ma Yun (马云), more commonly known as Jack Ma, came from humble beginnings to become one of China’s most influential businessmen and one of the world’s greatest leaders. A co-founder of Alibaba Group and founder of the Jack Ma Foundation, he’s the second richest person in China, following Ma Huateng (as of March 2019).
“If you want to win in the 21st century, you have to…empower others, making sure other people are better than you are,” he said in an interview with CBS’s Charlie Rose. “Then you will be successful.”
Jack used to give people tours of his city in exchange for English lessons, an entrepreneur from the very beginning. One of these tourists gave him the nickname “Jack,” after struggling to pronounce his Chinese name. It took Jack four tries to pass his college entrance exams, and once he graduated, he applied for and was rejected by 30 jobs. He was also rejected by Harvard Business School 10 times. Fortunately, Jack views his rejections as opportunities to learn, grow, and persevere.
“We keep fighting. We keep changing ourselves. We don’t complain,” he said.
After discovering the internet in 1994, he realized that the world wide web had something great to offer. In 1995, Jack founded his first company along with his wife and a friend. In 1999, he founded Alibaba with 18 friends, and from 2003 on, he founded Taobao Marketplace, Alipay (now Ant Financial, the largest FinTech company in the world), Ali Mama, and Lynx. Alibaba has gone on to create several companies.
In 2014, Alibaba’s IPO was the highest in world history at $25 billion. In January 2018, Alibaba became the second Chinese company to break the $500 billion valuation mark. It’s one of the top 10 most powerful corporations in the world.
In 2018, Jack announced that he would be stepping down from Alibaba to focus on his philanthropic efforts.
A multifaceted man who is also known for his outgoing personality, Jack has sung at Alibaba events and even acted in a kung fu short film.