Sunday, September 28, 2014

Alibaba founder: From KFC-reject to world's 70th richest man

From KFC-reject to world's 70th richest man: Alibaba founder who was inspired by Forrest Gump is now worth $14bn after flotation and has made his employees rich

  • Jack Ma, 50, founded web giant Alibaba from his tiny flat in China 
  • First saw the internet on a 1995 trip to Silicon Valley and was inspired
  • At a low ebb he was rejected for a job at KFC in Hangzhou 
  • Today Alibaba floated on the New York Stock exchange in record IPO
  • Speaking from the trading floor, Ma revealed admiration for Forrest Gump
  • Said he watches Tom Hanks film in times of trouble to cheer him up
  • Ma is now estimated to have a fortune of $14billion 

After his company's record-breaking entry into the U.S. stock market today, Alibaba founder Jack Ma has made it into the world's 100 richest men.

But before his stratospheric rise to wealth and power at the head of his company, an internet giant which dominates the Chinese online economy, Ma couldn't even make it into a chicken shop.

The 50-year-old entrepreneur who founded Alibaba with a group of 17 friends in 1999, had humble roots in the city of Hangzhou, eastern China, where he taught English in a local school.

But, hoping to better his lot in the early 1990s he applied, and was turned down for, a slew of other jobs, including with a KFC in the city.

Ma's luck changed, however, when a job came up in 1995 which let him travel to the United States as a translator, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

While there he caught his first sight of a computer linked to the internet - which began a chain of events which would lead to him joining the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos in the ranks of those made fabulously wealthy by new technology.

Ma has his ascent from ignominy to unimaginable wealth in common with another unlikely billionaire - the hapless film character Forrest Gump, whom he admits he often turns to in times of hardship.

In an interview the immediate aftermath of Alibaba's $22billion flotation, Ma cited Tom Hanks's dim but heroic character as a role model, saying Gump's triumphs over adversity had inspired him dozens of times.

Ma told CNBC: 'The hero I had is Forrest Gump - I really like that guy! I've been watching that movie for about ten times. Every time I get frustrated, I watch the movie.

'I watch the movie before I came here again for coming to the New York. I watched the movie again.
No matter what changes, you are you. I'm a stupid guy - fifteen years ago I only earned like $20 a month.'

He made the unusual comparison from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange today as his company's value charged towards its closing value of $93 per share.

Extrapolated to all of the company's shares, most of which were not put on the market today, Alibaba's value is just shy of $230billion, putting it just above Procter and Gamble on the NYSE, and just below JP Morgan Chase.

Daily Mail

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