“No company can rely solely on its founders,” he explains in a letter jack ma Announcement of the resignation of the presidency of Alibaba Group within a year to vacate the position of Daniel zhang, currently Managing Director. The news came in letter form through a letter from Jack Ma to Alibaba’s customers and shareholders, which claimed “physical capacity and energy limitations” which is why “no one can assume the responsibilities of the President and Delegate of the Director forever.”

Whoever is the first mainland Chinese businessman to appear on the cover of Forbes and is recognized as the richest Chinese man in the world leaves the company in good standing. Bigger than Amazon, Alibaba was the leader in online commerce last year and the fifth-largest company behind Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and Facebook. Last year, the company raised $40 billion and had an active customer base of 524 million people.

It’s not well known what Jack Ma will devote his time to now, although some publications, such as The New York Times, have assured that Alibaba’s still president intends to dedicate himself to philanthropy and education, which will mean a return to his would origins .

The origins

The story of Alibaba and its founder is summarized in a film: “A Crocodile in the Yangtze”, a film by the American Porter Erisman is considered a motivation for entrepreneurs, in which the story of the Chinese giant Alibaba is told. Before becoming a filmmaker, Erisman was the company’s vice president, so he knows firsthand the origins of the company, which was founded in an apartment in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, the same city where Jack Ma was born.

The film opens with a spectacular parade at Yelow Dragon Stadium, which seats 52,000, 16,000 of which were occupied by Alibaba employees at the time. Shortly thereafter, Jack Ma enters the stage, dressed like a rock star, with a white wig and red mohawk, painted lips and sunglasses. It was 2009 and the tenth anniversary of the birth of Alibaba was celebrated, which the CEO commemorated by interpreting the main theme of the film “The Lion King”.

Erisman, also in the role of narrator, is the one who narrates the birth of the company. 70 minutes by bike from home, Jack Ma went to an international hotel in Hangzhou every day to guide tourists and practice and improve his English along the way. A testament to his enduring character is that he rode the same route for 9 years. He later graduated from Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute and became a professor of English and International Business at Hangzhou Dianzi University. He then enrolled in Cheung Kong Business School in Beijing and graduated in 2006. At the university he also met his wife Zhang Ying, with whom he had two children.

Knowledge of English earned Ma a job offer as a translator in the United States. He accepted and flew to Los Angeles. It was here that he first learned about the existence of the Internet in full swing. He says the first word he consulted in the search engines was “beer,” “I don’t know why,” he says in the film, but the results returned tags from all sides except China. The next query was exactly the word “China” and revealed that there was no data there either.

Both impressed by the network’s potential and annoyed by her country’s anonymity, she convinced a friend to create a test site about China and see what happens. The surprise was that shortly after launch he received 5 emails: 3 from USA, 1 from Japan and 1 from Germany. He was excited and decided he had to be there.

After returning to China, he founded the first Chinese Internet company in 1994, Chinese Yellow Pages, a company dedicated to creating websites to enable other Chinese companies to advertise online. It wasn’t bad, but they didn’t get the results they expected either. Neither the People’s Republic government nor the Chinese customers nor Jack himself seemed ready to face the changes of the new era.

In 1998, Internet fever gripped Wall Street. Every day new companies are announced going public and new millionaires are being talked about. It is the moment when companies like Ebay or Amazon become successful. Then Jack Ma decides it’s time to try again. He locks himself in his living room with a group of 17 friends to come up with a business plan. These would be the origins of Alibaba, which relies on Chinese startups to use the portal as an “open sesame” treasury of a global market. The formula was simple: connect Chinese manufacturers and suppliers with foreign buyers in a business-to-business model. After seven months of hard work in hiding and cut off from the media, in 1999 They choose Hong Kong to announce the launch of Alibaba.

20 years later

“I think we are a very fortunate company, fortunate to live in the internet age and fortunate to live in China. The journey begins today. The road ahead is long. Alibaba isn’t just a company or a job, it’s a dream, it’s a great thing. We will uphold the principle of “customer first, employee second and investor second”. We must be a 21st century company, transparent, responsible, generous and global… today is cruel, tomorrow will be more and in the end it will be beautiful…”. The words are from the speech given by Jack Ma at the aforementioned 10th anniversary celebration.

It was then half of what was left to consolidate what is now Alibaba Group, a conglomerate of 9 companies that include taobao.com, Tmall, AliExpress, Alibaba or Alibaba Cloud, among others, and which make it the world leader in bring online trading . The group was listed on the Wall Street Stock Exchange in September 2014. What was born as a B2B sales portal is now a $420.8 billion global behemoth.

Over the past five years, Jack Ma has gradually delegated responsibilities to Daniel Zhang, the former CEO of Taobao and President of Tmall.com . It was Zhang’s idea to create “Single’s Day,” which Alibaba celebrates every November 11, which has already established itself as the world’s largest online shopping festival over Black Friday.

Daniel Zhang will be the one to take over the leadership of the company on September 10, 2019, but he won’t be the last leader considering his founder’s vision is coming up to 102 years. “For a company founded in 1999, a minimum operating life of 102 years means we will span three centuries, an achievement that few companies can claim. Our culture, business models and systems are built to last so we can achieve long-term sustainability.

Some keys to your success

These are some of the keys that led to Alibaba’s success, which can be extracted from Erisman’s film:

-Global positioning from the first moment. Jack Ma always knew his competition was in Silicon Valley, and he always had his eyes there.

-Confidence: “If we’re a good team and we know what we want to do, one of us can beat 10 of them,” he says in the film, praising the skills of Chinese software professionals, though acknowledging that Americans are better at hardware .

-Don’t be intimidated by a big enemy. The struggle that Jack Ma had with his Taobao project http://www.taobao.es/ to defend against the national market ebay . At the time he spoke of “a gorilla fight” with all his artillery and almost unlimited resources until victory.

-The power of determination: One of his favorite phrases is: “An entrepreneur must have skills that allow him to withstand the blows of fate and overcome the inevitable failures.” Born into a humble family, he grew up amidst the Chinese Communist Party-led Cultural Revolution, whom he had to convince of the benefits of the internet. Even the academic records have never foreseen the birth of a leader in world finance.

-A bad decision is better than none. In order to make Alibaba a global company, Ma decided to move the company to the United States. It was a bad decision, especially because of the misunderstanding between the Chinese and American teams. He finally fired the latter.

His most famous eccentricities

-Eager to dress up and karaoke: It is true that karaoke is one of the favorite pastimes of Asians and that Jack Ma is a great enthusiast, he shows it at his company parties. Aside from being a pop star, last year’s appeared on a Harley Davidson dressed in Mickel Jackson style to perform one of his songs, including dancing, in front of his 40,000 staff.

-Martial Arts Enthusiast: Jack Ma practices Tai Chi Chuan. In 2011, he hired several tai chi tournament winners to teach the art to his compulsory attendees at Alibaba. Ma’s film debut was also heralded in the short film titled Gong Shou Dao, or the Art of Attack and Defense, according to Alibaba-owned South China Morning Post.

-Forrest Gump fan: Ma usually says that he has seen the film more than 10 times and that whenever he encounters difficulties, he returns to watch the film starring Tom Hanks. “I love Forrest Gump. He is a simple person who never gives up. People think he’s stupid, but he knows what he’s doing. People should learn from that,” he said.

Narcissist or sense of humor?. The most critical describe his demeanor as narcissistic, while others celebrate his good humor. Ma has even performed at the Beijing Opera and organizes mass weddings among his staff. In one of them 700 couples got married.