Jack Ma – The Origin Story of China’s Richest Man

Jack ma cover image
Read time: 3 min.

Table of Contents

Many people know Jack Ma as the co-founder of Alibaba, and as one of the richest man in China, with a net worth of $41.3 billion (as of August 2020). Apart from that, Jack Ma actually led a very interesting life, and we will unveil his origin story today.

Origin of “Jack”

Jack Ma’s Chinese name is Ma Yun (马云). At a young age, he cycled about 100km, giving tours to foreign tourists to practice his English. He then becomes a pen pal with one of the foreigners. Like many other foreigners, he had difficulty pronouncing Ma Yun and called him Jack.

Jack Ma had his failures too

What? He’s the richest man and runs the biggest eCommerce website in the world! Well, you are right, but Jack experienced many hurdles along the way.

In his early years, he took 4 years to pass the Chinese entrance exam. This exam is held once per years, so it took him 4 tries to finally pass. Ambitiously, he also applied to the Harvard Business School for 10 times and failed all 10 times. As the saying goes: Doesn’t hurt to try, just apply!

Jack Ma sure is a firm believer of the saying. He applied for over 30 jobs and got accepted by none of them. In an interview, he stated that he failed to get a job at KFC. There were 24 applicants, and 23 of them got the job…

“Beer” was the first word Jack searched on the internet

Many of us will probably search for p*rn, but Jack is different, he searched for Beer. When Jack was introduced to the internet in 1995, he started searching for beers.

Interestingly, he found information regarding beer from lots of countries but not China. He then went on to search for information related to China but again, nothing! This prompted him to start his first company, China Yellow Pages, to build websites for Chinese companies. Again, this startup failed. A few years later, he founded Alibaba, and the rest is history.

Origin of Alibaba

Initially, Jack did not like the name Alibaba. He then asked a few people what they think of Alibaba. People from different nationalities all replied “Open Sesame” Jack then changed his mind. Alibaba has global recognition, is easy to spell, and he wants to “Open Sesame” to small, medium or large businesses. Alibaba was then registered and set up. At the same time, Jack also registered the name Alimama.

Jack Ma is a baller

Jack Ma revealed that his true interest is in the showbiz. Hence, he decided to make his own movie. In 2017, Jack Ma starred in the movie Gong Shou Dao. In the movie, he used his Tai Chi, sparred and defeated Jet Li, Donnie Yen, boxing champ Zou Shiming and Natasha Liu Bordizzo. This is definitely the definition of paying to win.

And how does one usually retire? Throw in your resignation later to your boss or the board of directors? That’s too lame for Jack. On his 55th birthday, and also celebrating his retirement and Alibaba’s 20th anniversary, he held his own rock concert. Sixty thousand employees were invited to the stars of this concert Jack Ma and the new CEO Daniel Zhang.

With all jokes aside, Jack Ma’s life was not a smooth-sailing one. Talent is not the only road to success. Sometimes, perseverance, networking and a stroke of luck are needed to carry us forward. There is totally nothing wrong with spending money on what we like, to make our dreams come true or to satisfy our fantasy. After all, money cannot be carried into our graves.


Watch Jack Ma’s Original Sales Pitch in 1999 (Alibaba Story)

Jamie Chua – All You Have To Know About Her

Firefox Free VPN: A Quick Overview

This post is also available in: 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) Deutsch (German) 한국어 (Korean) Melayu (Malay) Español (Spanish) ไทย (Thai) Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)