Jack Ma is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational models for all entrepreneurs around the world. Eighteen years ago, together with 17 partners, Jack Ma started Alibaba in Hangzhou, which has now risen from a small company to the biggest Internet and e-commerce giant, covering finance, cloud computing and even entertainment besides e-commerce.
From Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong to New York, these cities have saw Jack Ma’s footmarks to carve out. But Hangzhou, where Jack Ma grew and founded Alibaba, was his only and most important base camp. When asked about reasons why he particularly favoured Hangzhou, Jack Ma answered that it was in Hangzhou that he went through the most difficult period; he would always appreciated and remembered that. Ma also said that he enjoyed living in Hangzhou and had no intention for immigration.
Born and raised in Zhejiang, Jack Ma said he was proud of being a Zhejiang merchant, and the standing entrepreneur spirit of the group – integrity, has been living and breathing throughout the development of Alibaba. Ma said: “Alibaba, as a huge Internet community of tens of millions of active enterprises and individuals, will certainly assume more responsibility to help build a society in good faith.”
In 1988, Jack Ma received his first job as an English teacher in the Hangzhou Institute of Electronic Engineering and got a salary of 100 RMB per month. In spare time, he also found several part-time jobs, such as acting as a guide for foreign tourists. In this context it is worth mentioning that the first English Corner by the West Lake was launched by Jack Ma.
In 1992, together with his friends, Ma founded a translation agency called Hope, and began to work as translator. But they soon had to face hard facts: their earnings were far from enough to pay for the rent. Ma had no choice but to do other jobs, such as selling gifts and packing flowers, to support the running of the agency.
In 1995, Jack Ma was employed by a company, responsible for collecting accounts in America. It turned out to be a pretty significant experience, Ma recalled later, because in Seattle, he had his first contact with the internet, a novel and mysterious world. Out of curiosity he entered the word “beer” in the search engine, but only located products from America and Germany. So an idea came into his mind: why not make Chinese products and brands known to the world through the internet. Soon after returning to China, he quitted his job, and established China Page, one of the first internet companies in China.
By the end of 1997, Jack Ma’s team had developed official sites of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation as well as the Online Chinese Commodity Trading Market. And in 1999, after his job in Beijing ended in frustration, Jack Ma came back to Hangzhou, with the determination to build an e-commerce website that offers service to all small and medium-sized enterprises.
A TV programme of CCTV has recorded a scene when Jack Ma was in Beijing. In the film, he sat in the bus, looking at the outside street lights with heavy expression, and murmured: “a few years later, everyone will know what I am doing, and I will not be down and out as I am now.” Ma did not stay at Beijing after all, and returned to his hometown Hangzhou.
In July, 2013, Aibaba was born, and in the following year, Alipay came into existence.
In Hangzhou, Alibaba has experienced a soaring development and progress, now with employees more than 2 million. With the listing in America completed, the employees in Alibaba would be harvesting great wealth ($41.3billion as reported). Jack Ma now is the godfather of Chinese e-commerce, attracting the spotlight and respected by numerous entrepreneurs, and I guess, beyond Beijing and Hangzhou, people around every corner of China, and even the world, know what Jack Ma does.
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