What I Learned From One of China’s First Internet Billionaires

Image via FORBES

Jack Ma is a fascinating business man.  From English teacher to one of China’s first internet Billionaires.

Sunday January 22, 2017 at 9:46am
Victoria, TX ☀️️ Sunny 66 Fº

This morning, like he does almost every morning without fail…

My cat, Shadow, came to wake me up at 6:24am to let me know it was “time to eat”.

He’ll jump on my bed, lick my hand and then waits.

If I don’t get up quick enough, he’ll go and lick my other hand and starts meowing annoyingly until I finally get up.

Today, I got up after the first lick, fed him and came back to bed.

However instead of going back to sleep for a few more minutes, I decided to quickly check a couple of Facebook notifications and fortunately I ran across a video clip NextShark posted about Jack Ma, captioned…

“Jack Ma trying to convince his friends to join Alibaba in 1999. Today, Alibaba is a multi-billion dollar company and Jack Ma is worth $26.6 Billion.”

Naturally it caught my attention and it was only a couple minutes so I watched it.  You can watch the videoclip here…

In the quick 2 minute and 19 second video clip you can see Jack in front of about 10-12 others all listening to his vision and explanation of why Alibaba would succeed.

He gave 3 reasons…

Reason #1 – Position Alibaba as a global website

“Our competitors are not in China, but in America’s Silicon Valley, so first, we should position Alibaba as a global website, not just a domestic website.”

Reason #2 – Hard work and Commitment to Alibaba

“Second, we need to learn hard working spirit of Silicon Valley. If we go to work at 8am and go home at 5pm, that is not a high tech company and Alibaba will never be successful. If we have that 8am-to-5pm spirit, then we should just go and do something else.”

Reason #3 – Innovative Spirit

“Americans are strong at hardware and systems, but on information and software, Chinese brains are just as good as theirs. All our brains are just as good as theirs. This is the reason we dare to compete with Americans. If we are a good team and know what we want to do, one of us can defeat ten of them. We can beat government agencies and big famous companies because of our innovative spirit. Otherwise, what is the difference between us and them?”

He goes on for the next few seconds to talk about the “internet bubble” getting bigger and bigger and how even if the internet burst, the dream of the internet would not burst. Jack said, they would have to pay a painful price for the next 3-5 years, that it was the only way to succeed.

Then the clip ended abruptly.

However by then, I was hooked.

I wanted to know more.

I found out this clip was from a full Documentary titled…

“Crocodile in the Yangtze – Story of Alibaba & Jack Ma”

So down the rabbit hole I went.

I soon found myself deep in the story of Jack’s childhood, how he became an English teacher, how he stumbled upon the internet and started one of his first ventures “China Pages” and how even after failure and rejection from almost everyone (including the Chinese government), he then went on to launch Alibaba which eventually became the behemoth e-commerce company it is today, but not without countless struggles and challenges along the way.

If you’re a business owner/leader. It’s a must watch.

There are several business lessons to be learned from Jack’s mistakes and successes. However…

My #1 insight was…

Focus on creating meaningful value for the customer first. The money will follow naturally.

This is how Alibaba was able to defeat Ebay when they threatened to crush Alibaba by entering the Chinese Market, especially at a time when Alibaba was low on cash and it looked like they might not survive.

I’ve heard the whole “provide value first” more times than I remember. But there’s something about seeing someone like Jack Ma use it as a guiding principle from the very beginning when Alibaba wasn’t profitable yet and then seeing the Billion dollar results, that really makes it sink in.

If you’re a business owner/leader, watch the 1 hour and 17 minute documentary.  Keep an eye out for insights pertinent to your business and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Eddys Velasquez

Eddys Velasquez

The author Eddys Velasquez

Leave a Response