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   제목: How Jack Ma Became the Role Model for China's Startup Generation


How Jack Ma Became the Role Model for China's Startup Generation

Lulu Yilun Chen and David Ramli

September 11, 2018

Long before he became China뭩 most globally prominent business figure, Jack Ma was just an English teacher trying to persuade his friends that they would one day buy things over the internet.



His vision changed China. As Ma makes plans to leave Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., his legacy will be an enduring one. He did far more than just create and build an e-commerce juggernaut into the most valuable company in Asia, impressive as that may be.



He showed that an innovative private enterprise could thrive under a Communist Party regime once hostile, and still at times suspicious, of ambitious capitalists. To a remarkable degree, his path-breaking success created a model that gave rise to a technology industry that rivals Silicon Valley, propelling a Chinese economy on track to eclipse that of the U.S.






Ma is now China뭩 richest man, worth about $40 billion, and a headliner at global talking salons like Davos. At the same time, he뭩 complied with -- and fiercely defended -- his country뭩 ruling party even as it exerts ever tighter control over media, the internet and any hint of dissident speech. He뭩 gone so far as to praise the stability of one-party rule and chastise Western companies like Google that objected to China뭩 censorship practices. His approach demonstrated how entrepreneurial success can coexist with the Communist regime, paving the way for a new wave of startups.



"He뭩 been a role-model for our generation," said Peiran Wei, a 36-year-old who says he had the confidence to co-found a startup, an app developer called VideoUP, in large part because of Ma and Alibaba.

Read More: How China Is Building a Tech Industry to Rival Silicon Valley

Jack Ma뭩 personal story is now the stuff of schoolyard legend. He was born in 1964 to traditional Chinese musician-storytellers in Hangzhou, an ancient capital known for its historic sites and natural beauty. He honed his English by hanging around the town뭩 main hotel to practice with tourists.

After working as a teacher, Ma turned to business, starting Alibaba.com in 1999 with 17 co-founders. He wasn뭪 the most technically savvy entrepreneur, nor would he claim the smartest. But he proved an inspiring leader who could rally his forces to fight foreign intruders or articulate a vision for modernizing China뭩 economy.




"Intelligent people need a fool to lead them, he once said. 밒t뭩 easier to win if you have people seeing things from different perspectives."

Alibaba has brought e-commerce to remote villages of China and expanded into artificial intelligence, health care and Hollywood movies. Less than 20 years after its founding, the business that Jack and his co-founders built is valued at $420 billion, more than any of the older state-backed enterprises in his country.

"He started his company with 18 people in an apartment and even today whenever I pass that place I think of him," said Wei, who is also from Hangzhou. "It뭩 a 20-year-old apartment complex that doesn뭪 look posh but I still get inspiration from it."

One of the first to see the promise of Ma was Japan뭩 Masayoshi Son. His SoftBank Group Corp. led a $20 million investment in Alibaba in 2000 and now holds a stake worth about $120 billion.

밐e had no business plan, zero revenue, Son said of Ma on The David Rubenstein Show. 밄ut his eyes were very strong. I could tell from the way he talked, he has charisma, he has leadership.뮃

It was Alibaba뭩 record-setting initial public offering that altered the country뭩 tech industry for good. Ma and team raised $25 billion, more than any other company before or since, a wake-up call for venture capitalists that there were fortunes to be made on the country뭩 startups.


The impact was immediate. Beijing-based smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. raised venture funding a few months after the IPO at the highest valuation in the world, at $46 billion. It was soon surpassed by Uber Technologies Inc., but the floodgates were open. Venture deals in China rose from $4.4 billion in 2013 to $16.6 billion in 2014 and reached $62.6 billion in 2017, according to the market research firm Preqin. This year, China is on track to surpass the U.S. in both venture capital raised and IPOs.

밫he China startup scene wouldn뭪 exist in the same way without Jack Ma, said William Bao Bean, a Shanghai-based partner at venture capital firm SOSV. 밫he celebrity of Jack Ma and the success of Alibaba made startups an acceptable career choice, which has fueled one of the biggest technology markets in the world."

Selected articles from Bloomberg
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