If you are an Internet shopaholic then odds are that you would’ve heard of e-commerce website, Alibaba. But not everyone has heard the  inspiring story of its founder, Jack Ma, which is just a tad bit more stellar than the average rags-to-riches tale one hears about.

Here are a few facts about Ma we thought could inspire the young folk.

Jack was born on October 15, 1964 in Hangzhou, China.

He was born to traditional musician-storyteller parents and grew up while China was at the peak of communism, with little to no contact with the world beyond its borders. It is said that his favourite pastime as a child was to collect crickets. 


His first job, as a teenager, was guiding tours.

After US President Nixon’s first visit to Hangzhou, the tourism industry in the city boomed and Jack quickly stepped in as a tour guide, being paid with lessons in English. In fact, one of the American kids that he befriended named him Jack, claiming that his real name was a little hard to pronounce.


Jack flunked his university entrance exams twice.

The third attempt was a charm though, and Jack enrolled himself to the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute where he studied English. He graduated in 1988 and went through a bout of unemployment including a rejection from KFC before he finally got a job as a teacher at a local university earning a modest ₹800 a month.


Jack’s first Internet company wanted to sell Chinese beer in America.

On his first visit to America as a translator, Jack was introduced to the Internet and found that there were no portals for information on Chinese beers. Naturally he decided to create a website for it, which failed due to a lack of funding.


He convinced 17 of his friends to invest in Alibaba. 

In 1999, after several failed attempts at creating an Internet company, Jack founded a business-to-business marketplace site which served as a portal for exporters to list their products. The same year Alibaba gathered a funding of over ₹167 crores from companies like Goldman Sachs and Japanese telecom company SoftBank.


In 2013, Alibaba broke the record for the biggest IPO in US history.

Alibaba, by then a US-listed company, went public in September, 2013, with a ₹10 lakh crore IPO. The IPO alone rocketed Jack’s net worth to over ₹1.6 lakh crores.


Sources claim Jack coined the company ‘Alibaba’ while at a café in San Francisco.

At the moment, estimates by Yahoo – who own 40% shares in the company – claim that the Alibaba Group could be worth over ₹10 lakh crores by 2016 and is fast on its way to dominate the international e-commerce market.


Here’s one story to get you on your feet.