Jack Ma Denies Retirement News; Here Are 10 Other Facts About Him

Alibaba Co-Founder Jack Ma to unveil a succession plan on 10 September 2018, but refutes reports of his retirement.

Tech News
4 min read
Alibaba co-founder founder Jack Ma

It's almost a case of being lost in translation. Alibaba co-founder and chairman Jack Ma told the South China Morning Post that a report in the New York Times about his imminent retirement was taken out of context. What he said was, he would announce a succession plan for Alibaba on Monday, 10 September, 2018.

Jack Ma, the 54-year-old co-founder of one of the biggest online shopping companies, Alibaba, isn't ready to hang up his boots just yet. Earlier, a New York Times report said that Ma was planning to retire and devote his time to philanthropy focused on education.

Ma is relevant in an Indian context too, with Alibaba being one of the largest investors in One 97 Communications, the parent company of payment platform Paytm.

He is one of the richest men in China, but Ma wasn’t born with a silver spoon. His is a story of rags to riches. Since many have already read about his success story, we’ll dive in a bit deeper into his past and explore some interesting facts about Jack Ma.

Jack Ma Started off as an English Teacher

Ma graduated from the Hangzhou Teachers University with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1988 and was the only one chosen among a group of 500 to become an English teacher.

As much as he liked teaching English, Ma always had a fond desire to learn the English language when he was young.

In order to learn English, he used to give foreigners free tours of the city, and improve on his English by conversing with the tourists as he gave the tour. This whole process continued for eight years.

He Failed in His University Application, Twice

Most of the billionaires you see today either dropped out of college or failed some exam. Well, Jack Ma is no alien to these instances.

It’s hard to believe, but Ma flunked his university admission exam at the Hangzhou Teachers University, twice! To be fair, he says he wasn’t a very good student.

"I failed a key primary school test two times, I failed the middle school test three times, I failed the college entrance exam two times and when I graduated, I was rejected for most jobs I applied for out of college,” he said in an interview to Inc.

In a way, he mastered the art of failing before finally getting success.


Jack Ma Was Rejected By Harvard 10 Times

Most people in the world give up after a few rejections, but Jack Ma isn’t one of them. He revealed at the World Economic Forum in 2015 that he was rejected 10 times by Harvard University.

“I applied for Harvard 10 times, got rejected 10 times and I told myself that ‘Someday I should go teach there,’" he said.

Jack Ma got his MBA degree from Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.

He Was Kidnapped By An American Businessman!

Turns out Jack Ma got his taste of the action during his first visit to the United States as an interpreter. He was in the States to recover money from an American businessman for a friend.

However, trying to recover the money, he was threatened with a handgun and was locked up for two days in the businessman’s house.

As the story goes, the businessman forced Ma to accompany him on a trip to Vegas where Ma was forced to gamble. Ma won $600 which he then used to buy flight tickets to Seattle after he escaped.


He Was Rejected for a Job Application at KFC

English teaching wasn’t entertaining enough for Jack Ma so he head out to find another job. Of all the places in the world he landed himself at KFC!

As history goes, he was rejected by the fast-food restaurant and to make things worse, he was the only one to be rejected out of 24 candidates who had applied.

Would you call this man “out of luck”?

He's No Techie For Sure

The biggest irony! Being the head of one of the biggest tech companies in China, Jack Ma isn’t a techie. The first time he saw a computer was at the age of 31 when he visited the United States.

He thinks of himself as technology challenged and said that he only uses the computer to open and send e-mails.


Ain’t No Biz like Showbiz!

Jack Ma is an entertainer! From dancing to the beats of the famous Michael Jackson number “Beat it” to singing Unchained Melody at The Computing Conference in 2017.

Ma inherits his talent from his parents who were performers. He loves entertainment so much that he draws inspiration from Hollywood movie character, Forrest Gump.

“I've been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time when I'm frustrated I watch the movie. I watched the movie before I came to New York," he said.

His First Big Business Had Failed

After his US trip, Jack Ma returned to China to start his own online business called China Yellow Pages after borrowing money from a relative and adding his own life savings. He collected $2,000 to take the business off the ground.

Later, in 1999, Jack Ma got 18 people in his apartment and spoke to them about starting Alibaba. These 18 people contributed to Ma’s cause gave him $60,000 to start the business.


Jack Ma Is the Richest Person in China

Jack Ma’s first salary was around $12 to $15 per month. Now, this Chinese billionaire is worth $42.7 billion.

Now, if you convert that into rupee coins and count each rupee, you still won’t end up finishing the count in your entire lifetime. That’s how much money he has.

This Is 'Alibaba’ Got its Name

Jack Ma is a visionary and he was determined to take his company Alibaba global which is why he named his company something that the world could relate to.

Alibaba isn’t difficult to pronounce nor spell, and people can easily associate with “Open, Sesame,” the command that Ali Baba (the character from the folk tale) used to open doors to hidden treasures in One Thousand and One Nights, a familiar Arabian Nights tale.

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