Insight into e-market


  • Business
  • Saturday, 02 May 2009

Alibaba - The inside story behind Jack Ma and the creation of the World’s Biggest Online Marketplace Authors: Liu Shiying and Martha Avery Publisher: HarperCollins

sharidan@thestar.com.my

THE first couple of chapters of the book may read like another rags to riches story, but soon after you will realise that this is more of a realistic, sincere and inspiring e-commerce business “manual”.

This is the story about Jack Ma, a pioneer in the Chinese Internet industry and founder of Alibaba Group, a dotcom company that is now the world’s largest online marketplace.

It involved the highest Internet initial public offering (IPO) in Asia (listed in the Hong Kong stock exchange) and the second largest globally, after Google.

Its IPO raised HK$13.1bil and closed at HK$39.50, valuing the company at about US$26bil in November, 2007.

But the less than a decade long journey from a humble beginning (he started out with an initial capital of US$60,000) to growing a multi billion dollar business empire has been far from easy, what more when it involved breaking the Internet barriers in his country which forbade any news on the Net up until end 1995.

Today, there are over 230 million Internet users in China and Ma, without a doubt, has played a pivotal role in this IT revolution that has opened up the country’s well-guarded gate to the rest of the world.

The key to Ma’s success is not just the effective execution of a concrete business plan; it’s a story about the strength of the human spirit, perseverance against all odds and an unwavering belief in one’s self.

Toss in remarkable leadership skills, and there’s a combination that spells great success.

And because all of these traits are well encapsulated in this story that tracks his journey, it serves to inspire the reader, in fact just about anybody, that anything is possible.

Interestingly, Ma employs martial arts moves (profoundly influenced by wu xia novels) to run his business – small to conquer big, quick to conquer slow and intuitive insight to conquer conventional wisdom.

The book also reveals why Ma picked the name “Alibaba” for the group, having had to fork out US$10,000 to buy the domain name from another user.

The book’s authors Liu Shiying is a journalist, chief executive officer of Guangtian Xiangshi Culture Co, and chairman of the board of GT-SUNSTONE, a company that focuses on media consulting, while Martha Avery is the president of Avery Press Inc, which works with CITIC Press to bring Chinese intellectual property to the west and western authors and their works to China.

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