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Considering that no-one could ever break an established oligopoly in third-party transaction platforms, Jack Ma managed to not only to gain a strong foothold in-between Amazon and eBay but thrive in the particular industry with his Alibaba platform founded in the early 2000s, which now has become a leading e-commerce company[i] worth more than $150 billion[ii] while showing a continuous growing.
As most of the most intelligent and forward-looking entrepreneurs and pace-makers worldwide, Jack Ma didn’t start well during his academic years. His early years in primary and secondary schools were characterized by continuous failures. Nevertheless, Ma managed to shine in things that he was passionate about, such as self-learning of English and a pursuit for constant learning through questioning, experimenting and observing of, practically, everything. In times when the Chinese society was rather strict and not keen to accept such a liberal school of thought (his father warned him that his unique “dangerous” ideas lead him even to imprisonment), Ma managed to overpass constant rejections and failures with hard work and a dedication towards serving his vision.
The rise of the Internet and mobile phone users worldwide and the opening of the Chinese market to global entrepreneurship was seen by Ma as a golden opportunity to develop a differentiated business in relation to how customers’ needs could be better addressed through e-platforms. The initial business model adopted by Alibaba was simple, i.e. to facilitate a 24/7 buying through a convenient platform for suppliers and buyers globally. By recognizing China’s competitive advantage of low-cost producers and suppliers and a constant interest of wholesalers to benefit from low wages in China, Ma invested on the particular advantage by introducing Alibaba to a global customer base; as such customers worldwide would have the opportunity to access a vast variety of products at lower prices, a fact that was enough to address major established competitors in the e-market at that time.
“Ma’s idea was global from its start-up”
He didn’t limit Alibaba to just connecting Chinese suppliers with international buyers but tried to establish it as the major means to connect global importers and global exporters. In this respect, at start-up, Ma employed a lot of foreigners to run the company recognizing that, at that time, Chinese people had little to no management experience at all. From that time and on, Ma introduced a series of innovative thoughts to his business; he created a sports division, he formed an online portal with U.S. Macy’s[iii], he introduced Alipay that has surpassed PayPal globally, etc. The company is now a leader e-platform selling, practically, everything to everyone.
Jack Ma is a successful inspiring business man valuing people and group work as the means to achieve a common goal while being tenacious to serving a vision and never giving up even if constant failures occur. One of the rarest characteristics of Ma’s business philosophy is that he is a believer of friendly competition; enemies are not seen as enemies but as challenges that make him self-improve, this is a unique personal asset in a fierce business environment.
[i] Lifehack, http://www.lifehack.org/articles/work/8-keys-success-from-jack-self-made-billionaire-and-ceo-alibaba.html
[ii] CNBC Dhara Ranasinghe: Just how much is Alibaba worth? http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/06/just-how-much-is-alibaba-worth.html
[iii] Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/profile/jack-ma/