Yahoo's shot in the arm also catapulted Ma into the pantheon of Chinese entrepreneurs. That stamp of legitimacy matters in a proud nation that has long revered heroes; now models of capitalism seem to be supplanting even cherished soldiers and astronauts. In Alibaba.
Ma's rise has been the subject of dozens of biographies and business books. His slender frame and distinctive face--tapering jaw, intense eyes jutting out from a prominent forehead, ragged haircut--is instantly recognizable to most Chinese people. And to world leaders as well. Zuckerberg, a friend whom Ma met four or five years ago in Davos, stopped over for a day in December during his China trip. Ma has met President Hu Jintao many times, he says, mostly because of his involvement in an Asian business leadership group that meets annually with heads of state.
He considers the presumed next president of China, current Vice President Xi Jinping, a friend from Xi's tenure as party secretary of Zhejiang Province, where Alibaba is situated. When Xi served briefly as Shanghai party secretary in , he took a delegation to visit Alibaba, holding it up as a model for business development.
Deft management of these connections is critical for Alibaba. Chinese consumers were at first slow to warm to buying stuff online, especially since most didn't yet have credit cards, and Alipay's escrow system reassured buyers on the Web. Instead of challenging the government, Ma made a deeply humble if disingenuous offer: If Beijing ever asked for Alipay, he would hand it to them.
Still, his seemingly impetuous offer was just another move in his careful dance with authorities who can seize a business with impunity. Ma is fond of saying that he "dates government officials" but is not looking for wedlock. He is married and has two children, the older a high school senior. Trickier still is that Yahoo investment. While most Chinese Internet companies have substantial foreign ownership, the government does not look happily on so large a stake.
Neither does Ma.
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Negotiations last year to buy back half the shares fell apart. The issue of those shares is strategic--and personal. Ma's relationship with Yang's successor at Yahoo, Carol Bartz, began badly at their first meeting at Yahoo headquarters in March Yang introduced the two CEOs, then left the room.
Alibaba: The Inside Story Behind Jack Ma and the Creati – MLM Counties
Bartz proceeded to dress down Ma in front of his entire senior management team over Alibaba's handling of Yahoo China, according to people in the room. Yahoo declines to comment on the episode. When I ask him about it, Ma doesn't sound like a guy who lost face in that meeting.
But he does say that Bartz's failure so far to turn around Yahoo gives her little standing to criticize others.
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The relationship has never recovered. Alibaba Group has made no secret of its willingness to buy back the Yahoo stake, which has increased eightfold in value and probably stands as the company's shrewdest business move in the last decade.
Yahoo is believed to be in talks to sell its Japan holdings to Softbank, as Bartz seeks to boost Yahoo's stock for disgruntled shareholders; some are betting she will try to disgorge the Alibaba investment next. But Yahoo may be content to let its Alibaba stake appreciate in value. Ma, visibly frustrated, says he does not foresee real negotiations with Yahoo anytime soon. Ma dismisses the idea that friction with Yahoo is getting in the way of taking Taobao public--or that a prospective IPO would make the buyback of Alibaba Group shares that much more expensive.
He insists there are no near-term plans to float an offering. Who needs pressure from outsiders to expand at an unreasonable rate or rush to profitability? Fact is, Alibaba Group is sitting on a swelling trove of data about businesses and consumers. Ma seems in no big hurry to monetize it. Alipay, which takes a small slice of third-party transactions but no cut of Taobao-related business, could be a huge moneymaker at some point. AliCloud, the data mining unit, is scraping information about international commerce, as well as from Taobao, still mostly domestic transactions, and will someday help sellers with long-tail, consumer-to-business data.
All in good time: The money will follow. His biggest hurdle, Ma believes, is the near breakdown in the values of the company he created, where employees put financial considerations, and themselves, above their customers.
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A bestseller in China and now translated into English and updated with recent events, Alibaba by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery tells the remarkable story behind the Internet phenomenon Alibaba. Ma's rise to prominence presents a riveting story: Despite growing up in China during the Cultural Revolutionin a period of total state control of the economyhe developed the keen entrepreneurial instincts that propelled him to billionaire status and enabled him to build a company outside the usual government channels.
These instincts and habits incorporated martial arts training and allowed him to recognize, early on, that the Internet could leverage his company to rapid growth and also transform the way business is done around the world. In it became the second largest IPO in history after Google , and Fast Company has named it one of the world's most innovative companies. As a result, smart investors and technology insiders will be keeping a close eye on Alibaba for years to come. He has only one capability to make him different from others in the long run and that is he can predict the future and work towards it and convince people to share the same vision he believes in an outstanding way.
He also has an amazing capability to push people to their best and lead them wonderfully. A junior employee in his company once said everyone is equally respected as Jack Ma in here. Anyone can go and talk to him and share his ideas with him.
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He welcomes everyone in his company openly. Do you know all those 18 people who were the first to join Jack ma in his crazy ideas are still working for him! How many companies have the same trust system as them for about 18 years! As an admirer of Jack Ma, I am happy to say that, Jack Ma is already introducing Alibaba in my country which is Bangladesh and also became a very big part of the biggest business industries like bKash and daraz.
Hopefully, by his knowledge and experience, he will change the course of e-commerce of my country in a very positive way.
alibaba: The Inside Story Behind Jack MA and the Creation of the World's Biggest Online Marketplace
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