Jack Ma Yun is a Chinese business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He is the co-founder of Alibaba Group, a multinational technology conglomerate. In addition, Ma is also the co-founder of Yunfeng Capital, a Chinese private equity firm. As of June 2023, with a net worth of $34.5 billion, Ma is the fourth-wealthiest person in China (after Zhong Shanshan, Zhang Yiming and Ma Huateng), as well as the 39th wealthiest person in the world, ranked by Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, Ma earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in English upon graduating from Hangzhou Normal University in 1988. He became an English lecturer and international trade lecturer at Hangzhou Dianzi University following graduation. Later taking an interest in the emergence of the internet business, he established his first business in 1994, only to end up forming a second company after learning more about the internet and the commercial business possibilities that could be potentially exploited from its emerging growth. From 1998 to 1999, he led an information technology company founded by the Chinese government, later leaving it to start the Alibaba Group with his colleagues in 1999. The company was initially founded as B2B e-commerce marketplace website, yet the company later expanded into a wide range of industry domains across the Chinese economy, including e-commerce, high-technology, and online payment solutions.
In 2017, Ma was ranked second in the annual "World's 50 Greatest Leaders" list by Fortune. He has widely been considered as an informal global ambassador in Chinese business circles and has continued to remain an influential figure in the Chinese business community and scene of startup companies. In September 2018, he announced that he would retire from Alibaba and pursue educational work, philanthropy, and environmental causes.
In 2019, Forbes Magazine named Ma in its list of "Asia's 2019 Heroes of Philanthropy" for his humanitarian and philanthropic work supporting underprivileged communities in China, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. In April 2021, Jack Ma ranked 26th in the "2021 Forbes Global Rich List" with a fortune of $48.4 billion USD.
Jack Ma was born Ma Yun on September 10, 1964, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. From a young age, Ma showed a fascination with English and cultivated his language skills through interactions with English speakers at the Hangzhou International Hotel. Despite facing challenges, including academic struggles, Ma's determination led him to Hangzhou Normal University, where he excelled academically and became actively involved in student leadership.
After graduation in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Ma encountered initial job rejections before embracing the potential of the internet. He co-founded Hangzhou Haibo Translation Agency in 1994, which eventually evolved into his first internet venture, China Pages. This marked the start of his journey in the high-technology industry.
In 1999, Ma's vision led to the establishment of Alibaba, a business-to-business marketplace that quickly became a cornerstone of China's burgeoning e-commerce landscape. Under his leadership, Alibaba Group expanded to encompass a diverse range of subsidiaries, including Taobao Marketplace, Tmall, and Alipay, among others.
Despite his innovative success, his public appearances became sparse between 2020 and 2021, raising concerns about his well-being and freedom. However, he re-emerged in early 2021 and was later seen teaching entrepreneurship at the University of Tokyo, showcasing his dedication to education and research.
Ma's impact extends beyond business. His philanthropic pursuits include supporting environmental initiatives and rural education. Notably, he is the founder of the Jack Ma Foundation, dedicated to fostering educational and social development.
Moreover, Ma's unique presence isn't confined to the business world. In 2017, he made his acting debut in a kung fu short film and even ventured into the world of entertainment.
ack Ma's vision is rooted in the belief that technology can be harnessed to create opportunities and improve lives on a global scale. He envisions a future where digital innovation empowers individuals, businesses, and societies, fostering a more inclusive and interconnected world. Through his initiatives, Ma aims to bridge gaps in education, stimulate entrepreneurship, and drive sustainable development, striving to uplift underserved communities and inspire the next generation of leaders.
Ma's vision goes beyond profit-driven endeavors, emphasizing the importance of responsible business practices, environmental stewardship, and social impact. He envisions a harmonious coexistence between humans and technology, where the digital landscape serves as a catalyst for positive change. By fostering innovation, nurturing talent, and leveraging the transformative potential of technology, Ma envisions a future characterized by equal opportunities, improved education, and sustainable progress, leaving a legacy that transcends borders and shapes a better world for all.
Recognition and Awards
- Alibaba's Jack Ma is a Communist Party member, China state paper reveals | CNBC
- Bloomberg Billionaires Index: Jack Ma | Bloomberg.com
- Theo Epstein | Fortune
- How Alibaba's Jack Ma Is Building a Truly Global Retail Empire | Fortune
- Jack Ma Outlines Bold Vision For His Philanthropy Foundation | Forbes
- China's richest man Jack Ma to stand down from Alibaba | The Telegraph
- Billionaire Jack Ma prepares for life after Alibaba. He'll retire Monday, report says | Los Angeles Times
- Alibaba's Jack Ma, China's richest man, to retire from company he co-founded | The Economic Times
- Alibaba announces Jack Ma succession plan: CEO Daniel Zhang to take over as chairman in a year | CNBC
- Jack Ma | Forbes
- How billionaire Jack Ma fell to earth and took Ant's mega IPO with him | Reuters
- In Halting Ant's I.P.O., China Sends a Warning to Business | The New York Times
- Asia's 2019 Heroes Of Philanthropy: Catalysts For Change | Forbes
- Forbes Billionaires 2021: The Richest People in the World | Forbes
- Jack Ma | Encyclopedia Britannica
- Brief biography of Jack Ma | Prabhat Prakashan
- Alibaba Group | News.alibaba.com
- Alibaba's Jack Ma on Early Obstacles, His Ambitions | Bloomberg.com
- Alibaba founder Jack Ma: 'Harvard rejected me 10 times' | Business Insider
- Alibaba founder Jack Ma hiding out in Tokyo, reports say | the Guardian
- Alibaba founder Jack Ma seen in China after months of absence | the Guardian
- Many wealthy people are considering leaving China | The Economist
- Jack Ma Engineered Alibaba's Breakup From Overseas | The Wall Street Journal
- Alibaba's Jack Ma turns up in Japan as college professor | The Asahi Shimbun
- Alibaba founder Jack Ma takes up teaching post in Tokyo | Financial Times
- Jack Ma is using Singles Day, a symbol of crass commercialism, to revitalize Tai Chi in China | Quartz
- This could well be the oddest video you'll see this week | NewsComAu
- Billionaire Alibaba CEO Jack Ma sings at surprise music festival appearance | Business Insider Singapore
- Jack Ma disappears from his own talent show | Financial Times
- The Best Leaders of 2007 | BusinessWeek
- World's Best CEOs 2008 | Barrons.com
- The 2009 TIME 100: Jack Ma | TIME.com
- Jack Ma: The World's 100 Most Influential People | TIME.com
- Who Are China's Most Powerful People? | Wall Street Journal
- In Pictures: 48 Heroes of Philanthropy | Forbes
- Jack Ma Is the Loneliest Billionaire in China | Bloomberg
- Jack Ma leaves SoftBank board after 13 years | Nikkei Asian Review