Alibaba CEO Jack Ma reveals the one thing that’s more important than working for a big company

Next Shark:

Alibaba billionaire and business sage Jack Ma is known for dishing out wisdom on occasion. This time, in front of a younger audience, he revealed a general timetable for gaining business experience as well as what young people who aspire to work for big companies should seek instead.

Here’s an excerpt from his interview:

Before 20 years old, be a good student. If possible, get some work experience.

“Before 30 years old, follow somebody. Go to a small company. Normally in a big company, it’s good to learn processing. You are part of a big machine. But when you go to a small company, you learn the passion. You learn the dreams. You learn how to do a lot of things at one time.”

“So, before 30 years old, it’s not which company you go, it’s which boss you follow. It’s very important. A good boss will teach you a differently.

From 30 to 40 years old, you have to think very clearly — you work for yourself if you want to be an entrepreneur.

“When you are 40 to 50 years old, you have to do all the things you are good at. Don’t try to drop into new areas. It’s too late. You may be successful, but the rate of dying is too big. So 40 to 50, think about how you can focus on things that you are good at.

“But when you are 50 to 60 years old, work for young people because young people can do better than you. So rely on them, invest in them and make sure they are good.

“When you are over 60 years old, spend time for yourself. On the beach, sunshine. It’s too late for you to change.”

Ma also revealed that his biggest regrets are being a famous billionaire, because it took his privacy away, and that he wished he could spend more time with his family.

Billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba is sending Chinese gay couples to get married in California

gaychinese

Next Shark:

Alibaba, along with Chinese companies Taobao and Danlan, are doing something extra special for several Chinese gay couples this Valentine’s Day — they’re helping them tie the knot in Los Angeles’ most fabulous town.

Chinese LGBT news site Danlan, along with Blued, China’s leading gay dating app, and three LGBT nonprofits, recently teamed up to hold an online contest to find 10 lucky couples to be awarded with California-based wedding and honeymoon packages. The winning pairs were chosen by 75,000 voting netizens out of more than 400 video submissions of couples telling their love story.

Melanie Lee, a spokesperson for Alibaba, said the contest “hopes to evoke respect and understanding of homosexuality and support the realization of dreams … It’s more of a symbolic kind of gesture.”

West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico, who lives in WeHo with his partner Keith and their two dogs, will serve as a wedding witness. Gay marriage is illegal in China and the couples’ weddings will not be recognized in their own country, but when love is on the line, you just have to go for it.

This also isn’t the first time Alibaba has launched an LGBT-friendly campaign; last year, they featured a gay couple in their promo video for “Single’s Day” in Asia, according to Shanghaiist.

Why billionaire Jack Ma hired a Tai Chi master as his personal bodyguard

li 7Next Shark: 

Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently became the richest man in Asia with a net worth of $28.6 billion according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Naturally, someone that important should hire some muscle, only Jack Ma hired a master of Tai Chi instead.li 4
Tai Chi, made famous by slow-moving elderly people in parks, isn’t traditionally known as a fighting technique. It focuses on soft, internal power rather than hard power, which we would attribute to fighting styles in kung fu or karate. As a master of the flow, Li Tianjin can use Tai Chi as an incredible form of self-defense At 35-years-old, Li stands at just over 5-foot-6-inches weighing 188 pounds. Before accepting the quest of guarding the eccentric but frail billionaire Jack Ma, Li was a coach at the Tai Chi Temple in Hangzhou.

li 3

Li was born in the birthplace of Tai Chi in Chenjiagou, Wen County, in Henan Province.

li 2

He began his practice of Tai Chi at the age of 8.
li 1

By the time he was 14, Li became the apprentice of Wang Xi’an, a grandmaster of Chen-style Tai Chi, which can definitely be used as physical self defense. At 19, he won his first Tai Chi competition and went on to win several titles on the national level.

li 5

 

A Jack Ma biography in Chinese, titled “Ma Yun in Cloth Shoes,” tells 27 stories that shaped Ma’s life, one of which took place in Mongolia when Li allegedly destroyed a wrestler “in the blink of an eye.”

Once, Jack Ma and some members of the Nature Conservancy went to Hulun Buir Grassland in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for a study. There, a tenacious Mongolian wrestler approached them with a challenge: ”Three of you can pick one of us to have a fight.” Li came forward and replied, “Which one is the best wrestler among you all? Come fight with me.” Unsurprisingly, the low-profile Tai Chi master defeated the best Mongolian wrestler among them.

li 6

 

Tai Chi has also heavily influenced Jack Ma’s life philosophy, and he sticks to three principles — calm, follow and abandon. Always remain calm no matter what, follow the flow after knowing one’s strength, and abandon your burden in life. Nobody better mess with Jack Ma.

13 Fascinating facts about Jack Ma, the Man behind the largest IPO in history

jm3

Next Shark:

 

Jack Ma, the 5-foot-tall Chinese man with a friendly looking face, is the chairman of Alibaba’s record-shattering $25 billion IPO, which now sits as one of the largest companies on the market. But how much does anyone really know about his amazing story of starting a small business in his one-room apartment to becoming one of the richest men in China?

 

Here are 13 fascinating facts from the legendary life of Jack Ma:

 

Jack Ma’s life is full of failures.

jm6

 

When he applied for admission to the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute (now Hangzhou Normal University), Ma failed the college entrance exam twice. He eventually graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in English.

By 1995, he decided teaching wasn’t for him, so he decided to try his hand at business. Around this time, he even applied to a job at KFC in Hangzhou, only to be rejected. Ma also started a translation company, and on a trip to Seattle, he discovered the internet, inspiring him to start his first legit business, China Yellow Pages. While it is regarded as China’s first internet-based company, China Yellow Pages was also a failure.

As we all know, however, Ma’s second company, Alibaba, is doing much better.

 

How Jack Ma learned English.

 

Ma wanted to learn English so badly that when he was 13, he would wake up at 5 a.m. and would ride his bike 45 minutes from where he lived in Hangzhou to the then Hangzhou Hotel just to talk to foreigners and take tourists sightseeing for free. Through this practice, he not only polished his English but also learned “Western people’s system, ways, methods and techniques.”

 

 

The time Jack Ma was threatened with a gun, kidnapped and taken to Las Vegas.

 

From the “Alibaba Saga” in Forbes comes a story of Jack Ma’s crazy West Coast adventure.

In 1995, Ma traveled for the first time to the U.S. on interpretation business. Part of his business included trying to collect a debt for a friend from an American businessman in Malibu, California. It turns out that this American didn’t want to pay back the debt and instead locked Ma in his house, trying to force him to cut a deal. This guy was clearly crazy. Jack Ma explained:

“At one point he started playing with his handgun. It was obviously meant as a threat.”

 

Scared of what he assumed was a trigger-happy American “cowboy,” Ma complied with his demands while trying to find any way to escape. We aren’t sure if Jack was forced to stay with the American, but a few days later, the American decided to take Jack to Las Vegas as a “routine showcase trip” for Chinese businessmen. It was clear that Jack was still his captive.

To make matters worse, Jack Ma had almost no money on him. Seeing as how matters couldn’t get worse, he decided to try his luck at the slot machines. Miraculously, Ma won $600; he managed to escape the businessman, left everything he had behind with him,  went to the airport, and used his winnings to buy a plane ticket to Seattle where his friend was waiting.

“It was a terrible experience … Every time I think of L.A., I have a nightmare,” says Ma.

True story.

 

When Jack Ma first discovered the internet.

 

jm1

In 1995, while in Seattle visiting his friend, Jack first laid his eyes on a mysterious box-like device that he later learned was called a “computer.” His friend told him to try it out, and that’s when he discovered the world wide web. This inspired him to create his first business, China Yellow Pages, which he started with 7000 yuan ($1140) of his personal savings and a loan from a family member. Ma entered the world of dial-up internet.

“The day we got connected to the web, I invited friends and TV people over to my house … we waited three and a half hours and got half a page …. We drank, watched TV and played cards, waiting. But I was so proud. I proved (to my house guests that) the internet existed.”

 

How Jack Ma picked the name Alibaba.

 

Originally posted on Alibaba’s company forum, but no longer available, someone asked why Ma chose the name Alibaba. This is what Jack said:

 

“One day I was in San Francisco in a coffee shop, and I was thinking Alibaba is a good name. And then a waitress came, and I said do you know about Alibaba? And she said yes. I said what do you know about Alibaba, and she said ‘Open Sesame.’ And I said yes, this is the name! Then I went onto the street and found 30 people and asked them, ‘Do you know Alibaba?’ People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China… They all knew about Alibaba. Alibaba — open sesame. Alibaba — 40 thieves. Alibaba is not a thief. Alibaba is a kind, smart business person, and he helped the village. So…easy to spell, and global know. Alibaba opens sesame for small- to medium-sized companies. We also registered the name AliMama, in case someone wants to marry us!”

 

On the day Alibaba went public, Ma didn’t even ring the bell at the NYSE. Because Alibaba is supposed to be focused on customers, Ma had eight Alibaba customers ring the opening bell instead.

jm4

Jack Ma loves dogs and owns an Alsatian named Apollo.

alsatian

Zhang Ying (Jack Ma’s wife) was there with him from the very beginning.

zhangying

“Ma Yun [Jack Ma]  is not a handsome man, but I fell for him because he can do a lot of things handsome men cannot do.”

 

Zhang Ying and Jack Ma met in school when they were studying to be teachers. They married shortly after they graduated in the late 80s. She remained a teacher while Ma was building China Yellow Pages and she eventually quit being a teacher to jump on Alibaba’s team from the very beginning as the company’s “political commissar.”

As the Commissar, she spent the early days cooking meals for clients and associates and apparently running odd errands. She eventually became Alibaba China’s GM. She now focuses on caring for the couple’s two children.

 

How Jack Ma told his wife how much money his company made.

jm2

 

A couple years after Ma started Alibaba, his wife asked him how much money the company had made. Jack responded by raising a single finger.

Ten million yuan ($1.6 million)?” she asked.

No.” Jack responded.

A hundred million yuan ($16 million)?” she asked.

No.” said Jack again. “One million yuan ($160,000) …” he said to his wife’s disappointment.

… a day.” he added.

 

Jack Ma’s lifelong hero isn’t even a real person.

In his quirky, broken English, Jack Ma explains his love for Forrest Gump:

 

I watched the movie again, telling me that no matter whatever changed, you are you. I’m still the guy 15 years ago, you know, I only earned like $20 a month. Today I can do that much.

 

In all seriousness, Jack Ma has a beautiful soul.

 

 

How running Alibaba caused family trouble for the Mas.

 

Unfortunately, focusing on growing a multi-billion dollar company takes its toll when it comes time for family.

Zhang admitted in earlier interviews that they had effectively “sacrificed” their son, who was born in 1992, for the company. They put him in daycare five days a week, only seeing him on weekends, and their parental absence eventually led to his addiction to online gaming at internet cafes, where he spent most of his time rather than returning to an empty home.

Jack later asked his wife to step down from her role as Alibaba China’s general manager to become a stay-at-home mom for their then two children, a move she was very reluctant to make, but in the end she chose family over the money.

“She helps me a lot with my career and family,” Ma tells of his wife when it comes to balancing the success of Alibaba and his family.

 

Why Jack Ma leads his company by “not leading at all.”

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma gestures in front of the New York Stock Exchange before his company's initial public offering (IPO) under the ticker "BABA" in New York

In an interview with Xiao-Ping Chen, a professor at Washington University, Ma explained his very unique and humble management philosophy that mixes Tai Chi, Taoism and Buddhism.

 

“In Taoism, the best leadership is not leading at all … No teachers want their students to fail. So I never steal the spotlight from newly hired young people. If someone warns me about an employee who is trying to overstep me, I reply that I’m a teacher and that’s the way it should be.”

 

When Jack Ma was called crazy (a lot) for starting Alibaba.

Annual Meeting of the New Champions Tianjin 2008

 

 

In 1999, Jack Ma founded Alibaba after raising $60,000 with 18 friends in his one-bedroom apartment. He started his humble e-commerce company in an attempt to connect small Chinese businesses with global markets. As the underdog going up against an already established and expanding eBay in China, many people called him crazy. Ma told Xiao-Ping Chen:

 

“I gave a speech at Harvard in 2002. After my talk, a CEO from a foreign company said that I was a mad man. He said he had been in China for many years, and didn’t believe that my way of managing a company would work. I invited him to visit Alibaba. After a three-day stay, he said, ‘Now I understand. Here you have 100 mad men just like you.’ ”

 

15 years later, Alibaba now holds the record for the largest IPO ever in U.S. history at $25 billion with a market cap of $231.44 billion, more than Amazon’s $153.08 billion and eBay’s $65.04 billion combined. Alibaba trades on the NYSE under (BABA).

Underdogs do win after all.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s debut makes a splash in first day of trading

China-Based Internet Company Alibaba Debuts On New York Stock Exchange

Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma attends the company’s initial price offering (IPO) at the New York Stock Exchange on September 19, 2014 in New York City.

Wall Street Journal:

 

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., China‘s largest e-commerce company, on Friday became a publicly traded technology powerhouse, launching a blockbuster share offering in New York that drew attention world-wide.

Its first trade changed hands at $92.70, well above the $68 initial price that some investors paid, and shares finished the day at $93.89, giving the company a market value of $231 billion, larger than Procter & Gamble Co.

The 38% first-day gain handed buyers of the offering paper profits of more than $9 billion and easily topped the average 26% jump for U.S.-listed technology and Internet deals this year, according to Dealogic. The rise was especially impressive as larger deals typically have smaller one-day jumps.

The IPO fortifies Alibaba with a sizable war chest for possible acquisitions and product launches to compete with Chinese Internet rivals Tencent Holdings Ltd.and Baidu Inc., and allows it to quickly expand in overseas markets including the U.S. should it choose to do so.

Founded in Executive Chairman Jack Ma‘s apartment 15 years ago, Alibaba built its e-commerce empire by connecting China’s entrepreneurs, first with overseas clients and then with hundreds of millions of domestic consumers.

The former English teacher ranks among the wealthiest of China’s billionaires. He sold nearly $1 billion worth of stock in the IPO, and continues to hold a stake in the company worth about $18 billion at Friday’s close.

Mr. Ma has insisted the company will keep its primary focus on China, but the attention and financial clout from Friday’s offering could change that. Revenue for its most recent fiscal year was 52.5 billion yuan ($8.6 billion), less than one-eighth of Amazon.com Inc.,but its market value now exceeds the U.S. company’s.

George Zachary, general partner at Charles River Venturesin Menlo Park, Calif., said he now views Alibaba as a powerful global force, because of its scale, market value and cash holdings.

We should be careful of Alibaba because they could certainly start to control a lot of the landscape,” he said. “They are going to be the biggest e-commerce company.”

Its steep valuation poses hurdles. Alibaba now trades at a price that has Wall Street investors expecting strong growth even as it faces challenges including a transition to mobile commerce, where advertising rates are lower than for desktop users, and potentially slower-than-expected consumer growth in China.

Alibaba’s value is about 35 times what its underwriters forecast for next year’s earnings, according to people familiar with the banks’ projections. Rival Tencent trades at about 31 times earnings, while companies in the S&P 500 index trade at roughly 15 times.

Carlos Kirjner, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., estimated before the IPO that Alibaba’s fair value was around $215 billion. Now, valued at $231 billion, “the market is counting on spending per user to grow, and the company to invest the IPO profits wisely for future growth.” He said that meeting those targets is “very plausible,” but hardly “a no-brainer.”

In contrast to Facebook Inc.’s troubled IPO with confusion over missed trades, Alibaba’s first day went smoothly, coordinated by a gaggle of banks tasked with selling an Asian company in New York to investors across several continents.

Thanks to the heavy retail and institutional demand, underwriters are expected to exercise an option to sell more shares, which would vault the amount raised to $25 billion, a global record for a stock offering.

The deal’s 35 underwriters collectively earned as much as $300 million in fees, with the first five banks on the deal earning as much as $45 million each, according to people familiar with the terms. Those banks were Credit Suisse Group, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.,J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley. Alibaba also hired Rothschild as a separate adviser on the deal.

Yahoo Inc. sold 121.7 million shares in the deal, a bringing in about $5.1 billion after capital-gains taxes. It still owns 401.8 million shares.

While the company hasn’t been as well known outside of China, its IPO establishes it on the global stage. A majority of its shares were sold to U.S. investors, said people involved in the deal.

Friday’s debut also was watched closely around the world: Employees at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou celebrated their new wealth with a fireworks display, Silicon Valley venture capitalists took in the spectacle with a mixture of awe and dread, and Wall Street bankers toasted the millions of dollars in fees the stock sales generated.

“To have the money is something that can make the heart feel more at ease,” said Tony Miao, who says his wife works at Alibaba and currently owns about 2,000 shares.

Publicity around the company in recent days helped drum up a “swell” of interest among ordinary investors, said Steve Quirka senior vice president of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. He said Alibaba accounted for roughly 13% of TD Ameritrade’s trading volume.

Originally, “we weren’t sensing there would be this much activity,” Mr. Quirk said. “But in the last 48 hours it just picked up a lot.”

Still, only about 10% of the IPO went through retail channels, about two-thirds of which were set aside for friends, family, and employees designed by Alibaba itself, according to people familiar with the deal. Just a 4% sliver of the deal went broadly to small investors, the people said, in contrast to the more than 25% set aside for Facebook.

Investors who couldn’t obtain shares at Alibaba’s Thursday night price took to their computers Friday for a chance to buy a piece of the Chinese e-commerce company, even as shares at times neared the $100 mark.

Chris Kateyiannis was one determined buyer. A sophomore at Ohio State University, he placed an order at up to $81 per share before his Chinese language class began at 9 a.m. By the time he got out, the opening range had already exceeded that. In the school’s computer lab, Mr. Kateyiannis downloaded a web extension that refreshed his Fidelity brokerage account for him every few seconds, and he adjusted his order.

Just before his calculus class began at noon, his order finally went through at $94.79. Sitting in class, he discreetly used his phone to buy another round of shares when the price pulled back a little to $92.18. “I was still paying attention to the teacher,” he insisted.

With shares closing at $93.89, Mr. Kateyiannis was hardly a big winner. “I might sell half my shares in a few weeks if I need the money to invest in something else,” he said. “I’m going to hold on to some of it though—I think it’ll go up in the long-term.