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The Life Story of Jack Ma [Infographic]

Life Story of Jack Ma

By Clara Lincy | Infographics | May 5, 2019

Who is Jack Ma?

Jack Ma is a prominent business figure and a self-made billionaire. From being a Chinese business magnate to playing the role of investor and philanthropist, Jack Ma has come a long way. He tasted success as the founder and CEO of the Alibaba Group, an e-commerce business venture.

Net Worth: US$38.3 billion (as of March 2019)

Life Story of Jack Ma


Childhood and Early Life

  • Born: 10 September 1964 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.
  • Parents: Ma Laifa and Cui Wencai who were storytellers and musicians by profession.
  • Birth Name: Ma Yun
  • Teenage Life: At young age, Ma worked as a guide at Hangzhou international hotel for free.

He offered city tours to foreigners to practice and improve his English.

One of his foreigner friend nicknamed him ‘Jack.’

  • Academics: Failed three times in University entrance exam.

Graduated from Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute with B.A. in English in 1988.

  • Got rejected from 30 different jobs.
  • Applied for job at KFC, out of 24 applicants, he was the only one to get rejected.
  • Even applied to Harvard Business School and got rejected ten times.
  • After graduation, became an English teacher at Hangzhou Dianzi University for $12 per month.


Business Career: (The Journey to Becoming China’s Richest Man and One of World’s Billionaire)

  • 1995 – Ma visits US, and his friends introduce him to the Internet and computers.
  • ‘Beer’ was the first word he searched on the browser.
  • Searches information about China but notices no mention of his country on the Internet.
  • Together with a friend launches an ugly website offering information on China.
  • As soon as the website goes live, he starts getting a call from Chinese investors.
  • 1995, April – Raises US$20,000 together with his wife and a friend to open his first company.
  • The company was named ‘Chinese pages’ that helped companies with website creation.
  • Within three years, his company made US$800,000.
  • 1998 – Appointed as the head of an information technology company, founded by China International Electronic Commerce Center.
  • 1999 – Quit his job and founded Alibaba, a China-based business-to-business marketplace site.
  • The e-commerce startup began operating from his apartment together with 17 of his friends.
  • For his venture, he raised funding from SoftBank and Goldman Sachs in 1999.
  • 1999-2000 – Alibaba receives funding of $25 million foreign venture capital investment twice.
  • 2003 – Jack Ma founded Taobao Marketplace, Ali Mama, Lynx, and Alipay.
  • Rejects eBay’s offer to purchase company Taobao.
  • 2005 – Gets $1 billion investment from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.
  • 2014 – Raises the biggest IPO of over $25 billion, breaking all the records in the US financial history.
  • Established his company Alibaba as the world’s largest retailer.
  • 2018 – Jack Ma retired as CEO of Alibaba Group to pursue educational work.
  • He is the founder of Jack Ma Foundation, a philanthropic organization.


Entertainment Career

  • 2017 – Made acting debut with Gong Shou Dao, a Chinese kung fu short film.


Awards and Recognition

  • 2004 – China Central Television honored Jack Ma as one of the “Top 10 Economic Personas of the Year.”
  • 2005 – Selected as a ‘Young Global Leader’ by the World Economic Forum.
  • 2014 – Listed by ‘Forbes’ magazine as one of the 30 most powerful people in the world.
  • 2015 – Asia Awards felicitated him with the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award.
  • 2018 – Received degree of Doctor of Social Sciences from the University of Hong Kong.

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