Jack Ma (a.k.a. Ma Yun) was born on October 15, 1964, in Hangzhou, located in the south Eastern part of China, grew up at a time when communist China was isolated from the West. His parents were traditional Musicians-Storytellers and they didn’t make enough to be even considered as middle class during those days.
“I was never afraid of opponents who were bigger than I,” he recalls in “Alibaba,” a book by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery. He was a very harsh kid who used to pick fights with older kids at school.
He has his share of failure stories to tell. He has failed his primary school and middle school more than once. When applying to universities after his High school, Jack failed the entrance exams thrice, before finally joining Hangzhou Normal University. He even applied and wrote to Harvard University ten times about being admitted – and got rejected each time. On his Entrepreneurial undertakings, Jack Ma went on to fail on two of his initial ventures. But that didn’t stop him in any way of dreaming bigger.
After persuading 17 of his other friends to invest and join him in his new e-commerce startup – Alibaba, the company began from his apartment. Initially, Alibaba didn’t had a single penny in investment from outside investors, but they later raised $20 Million from SoftBank and another $5 Million from Goldman Sachs in 1999. Building trust among the people of China that an online system of payment and package transfers is safe was the biggest challenge Jack Ma and Alibaba faced, a challenge that Jack will cherish for his lifetime.
Having started his first successful company at the age of 31 and even after never having written a single line of code or selling something to anyone, Jack Ma runs one of the biggest E-commerce networks in the world. The company went on to grow rapidly, expanding all across the world, quickly growing out of its China shell. Only second to Walmart now in terms of sales per year, Alibaba has become the E-commerce giant that Jack Ma has envisioned for it.