Jack Ma steps down as chairman of Alibaba
Jack Ma, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has stepped down as as executive chairman of China’s largest company after 20-year reign. The former English teacher steps down on his 55th birthday after amassing a $41.8 billion fortune — a trove surpassed in Asia only by India’s Mukesh Ambani, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang will take over the role of chairman from September 10 as Jack Ma vacates the position.
Ma and 18 others founded Alibaba in 1999. They used to hold meetings out of his apartment when the company first started. In its early days, Alibaba launched Taobao and Tmall, two of the biggest shopping sites in China.
Story of perseverance and resilience
A persevering and resilient person, Jack Ma overcame many obstacles and challenges to become one of China’s richest men. Ma received more than a dozen rejections — including from KFC — before being hired as an English teacher. Ma applied ten times to Harvard Business School (HBS) and got rejected.
Born on September 10, 1964 as Jack Ma, or Ma Yun, Ma began studying English at a young age by conversing with English-speakers at Hangzhou international hotel. He would ride 70 miles on his bicycle to give tourists tours of the area to practice his English for nine years. He became pen pals with one of those foreigners, who nicknamed him “Jack” because he found it hard to pronounce his Chinese name.
Ma had no experience with computers or coding, but he was captivated by the internet when he used it for the first time during a trip to the US in 1995. He had recently started a translation business and made the trip to help a Chinese firm recover a payment. Ma’s first online search was “beer,” but he was surprised to find that no Chinese beers turned up in the results. It was then that he decided to found an internet company for China.
As of June 2019, he is one of China’s richest men, with a net worth of $35.6 billion, as well as one of the wealthiest people in the world and also was ranked 21st in Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful People.