Born on September 10, 1964 in Hangzhou, Jack Ma in 1999 founded the Alibaba Group, the Chinese leader in online commerce. He was the CEO of the group from 1999 to 2013 and has served as executive chairman since May 2013.
Jack Ma was an English teacher. He graduated from Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute in 1988.
From a modest career as an English teacher, Jack Ma has become in recent years the Chinese Steve Jobs. At 51, he is the second richest man in the country with a fortune of $23.3 billion.
Still little known in the West, Jack Ma – Ma Yun is his real name – is an idol in China. He compares himself to Forrest Gump – “That is not a smart guy, but he is stubborn. He is not talented but very, very hardworking.” Yet this once poor mathematics student and brawler was very talented when he founded the Chinese empire of online commerce.
Jack Ma grew up in Hangzhou during the Cultural Revolution in a family of professionals in theater arts and Chinese music. Early on, he was interested in learning foreign languages and began his career as an English teacher in Hangzhou. Nicknamed “Crazy Jack” for his highly theatrical teaching style, he was popular with his students. Thanks to his impeccable English, he was selected to go to Seattle in 1995 as a member of a delegation to negotiate a highway construction project. On this trip, Jack Ma discovered the internet and made his first online search – reportedly for “beer” and “China.”
Convinced of the need to import the internet to China at a time when no one knew about it, he created an online business directory called ‘’China Pages,’’ but he had to abandon the project in 1997. However, it convinced the People’s Daily in Beijing to have its own Internet page and start up a website in the Chinese capital.
He returned in 1999 to his native province, and Alibaba was born. With 17 colleagues, he founded an innovative e-commerce company for small and medium businesses (SMEs). Everyone contributed, and Jack Ma managed to raise 60,000 dollars to launch Alibaba in Hangzhou. He held the position of CEO, becoming one of China’s richest men thanks to the runaway success of his business. In May 2013, Jack Ma stepped down as CEO but he remains executive chairman of Alibaba Group.
This unconventional English teacher has managed, thanks to his fighting spirit and his unfailing optimism, to build an empire of online business in just over a decade.
Jack Ma acquired a Bordeaux vineyard in August 2015. He bought the Château de Sours, a property of 80 hectares located in Saint-Quentin-de-Baron that produces 500,000 bottles of Burgundy per year. This acquisition is part of purchases of castles in the region by an investment club of Chinese friends. And Jack Ma did not stop there – he was already eyeing the purchase of a Bordeaux trading company.