Thursday, August 2, 2007

Jack Ma, Alibaba Group



Despite of his unconvincing look, Jack Ma has an outstanding achievement, building Alibaba group from nothing to something.

Who knows, before 1995, Jack Ma, former English teacher, had never touched a computer. However, now he is a success internet entrepreneur of an e-commerce company that can compete with eBay. Not only is his achievement greater than his appearance, his ambition is also huge. “5 years from now, one from the biggest five internet companies will come from China, and I hope, we will become part of that,” said Ma, 42.

For his expansion plan, Ma that was known as the “Big Boss” in the China internet industry is preparing to get listed on the stock market. Ma hires NM Rothschild consultant, an investment bank, to gather 1 billion USD fund. Even there is no confirmation; Alibaba is currently planning to do initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong or New York, as an alternative. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley predicted the initial offering price for the stock will be the highest one in the history of the China internet industry. If the prediction is right, the Alibaba Company will be worth 4 billion USD.

When eBay expanded to China in 2002, many local e-commerce companies gave up the competition and assumed that there is impossible to penetrate in the China market again. But that thought is not in Ma’s thinking. He still confidence and he even dare to compete with that giant e-commerce company from United States. For him, there is only one thing that eBay doesn’t have, but Ma has as his main weapon. Ma has a very strong business root in China, which is their trust. “In China, the most important now is not the technology, but how we manage to maintain our closure with the customer and how we understand the customer’s needs.“ Ma stated.

Ma’s success story began in 1995. At that time, he established China Pages, the first China internet company. Then, he got an invitation from the Trade Minister to become the head of the China Information and Electronic Department. On March 1999, Ma and his 18 people team published from Ma’s apartment at Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. With this site, Ma wishes to create a facility that can make task easier for low-level and mid-level businesses. After having many rise and tide, Ma starting to show some promising results. Like the challenges that business to business (B2B) internet companies have, the trust from the customers is the key point. With fast learning from the previous mistake and quick solving time of the problem, slowly became big.

Under Ma’s leadership, Alibaba grows fast and got on top on October 2005. At that moment, Alibaba cooperated with Yahoo!. With 1 billion fund, Yahoo! took over 40% of Alibaba, and Ma took over the operation of Yahoo! in China. From there, comes the Alibaba Group. This company consists of global e-commerce virtual site,, Taobao, Yahoo! China search engine, Alipay (online payment) and Alisoft (software house).

From 19 personnel at Ma’s apartment, now Alibaba Group has more than 5,000 employee and millions of customers worldwide. Ma is very proud as a Chinese and can make a great achievement in his homeland, China. “I 100% grew up in China. I learnt English by myself in China, and I never learnt outside of China,” he said. When he was still young, he was willing to bike for 45 minutes every day to a hotel that has many tourists staying in it. He did this so he can practice his English with the tourists.

When running his business, Ma didn’t want to be like the other business man. Ma still holds on to his identity as a Chinese. He was inspired from a China kung-fu novelist, Jin Yong. “Jin Yong books teach me that whatever we want to be a great person, or having a great company, we have to work hard. And to win, we have to think out of the box,” said Ma. Although he grew up in China, it didn’t make Ma became narrow minded and do business in China only, he continues to think globally and help his company to continue grows worldwide. “I don’t consider myself a success business man. If we work hard and quickly learn, I think everybody has the same opportunity for success.” he explained.

Many rewards have been received by Ma on the last 7 years. In 2001, he was chosen by the World Economic Forum as “Young Global Leader”. On 2004, he was chosen as “Business Leader Top 10” according to China Central Television version. Not only that, Fortune magazine includes Ma in the “25 Biggest Businessman in Asia.” Ma is on the 15th spot. Besides in the business world, Ma is also the “50 Most Important Person in the Web.” according to PC World in 2007. Ma believes, if himself, that was once cannot use computer, can becomes the person he is now, then 80% of youth all over the world can follow his path of success. “Believe on your dream and believe in yourself. Chase your dream because you desire it, not because other people told you to,” Ma advices.