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Alibaba Founder Jack Ma Nearly Doubled His Wealth This Year — Here's His Inspiring Life Story

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17 December 2014, 1:11 pm by: Madeline Stone and Jillian D'Onfro

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Fresh off the biggest IPO in history, Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma is now the richest person in China.

Ma made more money that anyone else in the world this year. His wealth grew by $18.5 billion between December 2013 and December 2014, a whopping 173% increase.

He's now worth an estimated $29.2 billion, which includes his 7.8% stake in Alibaba and a nearly 50% stake in payment processing service Alipay. 

Ma's is a true rags-to-riches story. He grew up poor in communist China, failed his college entrance exam twice, and was rejected from dozens of jobs, including one at KFC, before finding success with his third internet company, Alibaba. 

Jack Ma (a.k.a. Ma Yun) was born on October 15, 1964, in Hangzhou, located in the southeastern part of China. He has an older brother and a younger sister. He and his siblings grew up at a time when communist China was increasingly isolated from the West, and his family didn't have much money when they were young.

 Source: 60 Minutes, USA Today


Ma was scrawny and often got into fights with classmates. "I was never afraid of opponents who were bigger than I," he recalls in "Alibaba," a book by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery. Still, Ma had hobbies just like any other kid. He liked collecting crickets and making them fight, and was able to distinguish the size and type of cricket just by the sound it made.

Source: USA Today, Business Insider

After then-US president Richard Nixon visited Hangzhou in 1972, Ma's hometown became a tourist mecca. As a teenager, Ma started waking up early to visit the city's main hotel, offering visitors tours of the city in exchange for English lessons. The nickname "Jack" was given to him by a tourist he befriended.

Source: 60 Minutes


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