25+ Jack Ma Facts To Inspire You To Start A Business In 2023

Updated · Mar 06, 2023

Jack Ma is the co-founder of Alibaba Group and one of the richest Chinese businessmen. He is also an investor and a philanthropist.

In this article, we have collected a list of almost 30 interesting and inspiring Jack Ma facts.

Let’s dive into the business magnate’s life and career.

Inspiring Facts About Jack Ma (Editor's Choice)

  • As a teenager, Jack Ma learned English while giving free tours to visitors on the West Lake in Hangzhou.
  • The first company of Jack Ma was a translation agency.
  • Jack Ma was one of the 19 co-founders of Alibaba.
  • They started the company in 1999, working from an apartment in Hangzhou.
  • Jack Ma was listed as one of 100 most powerful people on Earth by Time Magazine in 2009.
  • At the beginning of 2021, Jack Ma’s fortune was estimated at around $50 billion.

Jack Ma Biography

The story of Jack Ma began on September 10, 1964, when he was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.

He started studying English at a young age. To practice the language, the nine-year-old Jack began working as a tourist guide.

How did Jack Ma become one of the richest men on Earth? Read our list of facts about Jack Ma below to find out.

1. Jack Ma comes from a modest family.


The parents of Jack Ma worked as traditional musicians-storytellers. He has an older brother and a younger sister.

During the rise of communist China in the 1960s, his family was below the middle-class threshold.

2. Ma inherited his parents’ creative side.

(Source: KrASIA)

One of the less known facts about Jack Ma is his love for performing. It’s no surprise, though. After all, it’s in his blood.

Jack Ma has dressed up in costumes at several Alibaba events, singing and dancing to pop songs.

3. Jack Ma is a passionate Tai Chi fighter.


The Chinese entrepreneur has been practicing Tai Chi for years. Supposedly, he also often hires Tai Chi professionals to teach Alibaba employees.

4. Jack Ma gave free tours in exchange for English lessons.

(Source: toolshero)

When US President Richard Nixon visited Hangzhou in 1972, Jack’s hometown became a popular tourist destination.

The young boy used to ride his bike to the famous hotel Hangzhou every single day. There, he offered foreigners free tours just to be able to practice his English.

5. The real name of Jack Ma is Ma Yun.

(Source: TheFamousPeople)

Young Ma started exchanging letters with a foreigner he met in Hangzhou.

Since he couldn’t pronounce his Chinese name, the man called him Jack. Ma Yun embraced that nickname and is using it to this day.

6. Jack Ma was collecting crickets.

(Source: Childhood Biography)

Jack Ma had a carefree childhood and many hobbies. One of them included collecting crickets and making them fight against each other. 

But his love for fighting went a step further.

Although he was rather small, he was often starting fights with his classmates.

7. Ma failed his college entrance exam twice.

(Source: Inc.)

After finishing high school, Ma wanted to go to college. However, he failed the entrance exam twice and got accepted on the third try.

Jack Ma continued his education at the Hangzhou Teachers Institute. He graduated in 1988.

8. Jack Ma couldn’t secure a job even at KFC.


After finishing his degree, Jack Ma applied for as many jobs as he could. He got rejected by most of them, including by KFC.

Years later, in an interview, Jack Ma told the story: “When KFC came to China, 24 people went for the job. 23 people were accepted. I was the only guy who wasn’t.”

9. Ma’s fascination with the internet began in 1995.

(Source: Inc.)

In 1995, Jack Ma went on a business trip to the US in relation to his translation company. This was when he first encountered the internet.

He searched the word “beer” online. Imagine his surprise when no Chinese beers showed up in the results.

The young entrepreneur saw an opportunity in this and took it.

Without having any background in computing, Jack Ma decided to start a Chinese internet company.

10. Jack Ma shared he uses his computer only for basic tasks.

(Source: KrASIA)

In an interview from 2010, the Chinese billionaire admitted he is familiar only with the computer’s basic functionalities.

He uses it for sending and receiving emails and browsing the web.

11. Jack Ma met his wife-to-be at University.

(Source: CelebFamily)

Jack Ma is married to Zhang Ying.

The couple met at Hangzhou University and wed after graduation. They have been together ever since.

Zhang Ying has supported Jack in all his business ventures. She also donates millions of dollars to a number of charities.

12. Jack Ma has three children.

(Source: Married Biography)

Jack and Zhang have three children together. However, they have revealed very little about them.

It is known that their son Ma Yuankun was born in 1992. They also have a daughter Ma Yuanbao. There is no exact information about their third child, though.

13. Ma owns a French vineyard.

(Source: Fashion Network)

Jack Ma bought the Château de Sours in Bordeaux in 2016. The vineyard has a castle from the 18th century and an 85-hectare property producing 500,000 bottles of wine each year.

14. Jack Ma stepped down as chairman of Alibaba in 2019.

(Source: ZDNET)

Jack Ma stepped down on the company’s 20th birthday. During the ceremony, Ma announced he had been preparing for the succession in the past ten years.

The ending of Alibaba’s co-founder farewell letter read: “Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”

15. Ma supports the Chinese work practice “996.”

(Source: CNN)

“996” refers to working from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm six days a week. The practice is common among China’s big technology companies.

Jack Ma said in a post on social media: “If we find things we like, 996 is not a problem.” He believes that if a person doesn’t like their job, every minute of it would be torture.

16. Jack Ma disappeared from the public eye in early 2021.

(Source: Reuters)

In October 2020, Jack Ma held a speech criticizing China’s financial regulators. This led to the shelving of the mega IPO of his Ant Group.

Ma’s disappearance afterward triggered a lot of speculation. One of the hypotheses was forced silence.

The business magnate reappeared in January 2021 in a video conversation with a group of teachers.

Jack Ma was reportedly seen on a few other occasions in 2021.

Jack Ma Career

Surely, the facts about Jack Ma’s personal life are interesting. But his career is what made him the man we know.

From an English teacher to one of China’s richest men, Jack Ma walked a long way.

Let’s uncover some of the most impressive Jack Ma career facts.

17. Jack Ma’s first job was as an English teacher.

(Source: Inc.)

Jack got hired as an English teacher and loved his job. While teaching, the future Chinese billionaire Jack Ma received only $12 per month.

18. The first company Jack Ma founded was a translation agency.

(Source: Business Standard)

Jack Ma founded his first company, the Haibo Translation Agency, in 1994.

The main aim of the business was to provide English translation and interpretation.

19. Jack Ma founded Alibaba in 1999.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

Together with 18 friends, Jack Ma established the Alibaba Group in 1999.

The company was started as a global wholesale marketplace. The team worked from Ma’s apartment.

20. Ma didn’t have a business plan.

(Source: Forbes)

Unlike many other successful business magnates, Jack Ma didn’t have a business plan for Alibaba.

He just had a vision in which he strongly believed. His motto back then was: “If you plan, you lose. If you don’t plan, you win.”

This is one of those Jack Ma facts you didn’t expect, isn’t it?

21. Jack Ma named the company after Ali Baba and The 40 Thieves.

(Source: USA Today)

In a 2006 interview, Jack Ma shared why he named his company Alibaba.

He was sitting in a cafe in San Francisco, thinking about Ali Baba’s story. Jack asked the waitress if she knew anything about Ali Baba. She immediately replied: “Open Sesame.”

Jack claims this was the moment he chose the name of his company. A name that people know and associate with opening doors.

22. The first big investors in Alibaba were Goldman Sachs and Softbank.

(Source: Business Standard)

The large Japanese companies Goldman Sachs and Softbank saw the potential of Alibaba in 1999. They invested $25 million in Jack Ma’s project.

23. Ma started achieving success in his 30s.

(Source: CNBC)

Jack Ma was 35 years old when he founded Alibaba. He started earning significant profits only a few years later.

He believes the 20s are for learning and the 30s—for trying your own ideas.

24. In February 2021, Jack Ma’s net worth was around $55 billion.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Since then, Jack Ma’s net worth has been slowly decreasing. At the beginning of January 2022, it reached $38.4 billion.

25. Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group includes 13 companies.

(Source: Alibaba Group)

Some of the biggest companies in Asia are part of the Alibaba Group. Among them are Aliexpress, Taobao, Tmall, 1688.

26. Jack Ma was one of the first Taobao customers.

(Source: KrASIA)

When Taobao was launched in 2003, the online shopping platform had no users at all.

Ma and the other co-founders decided to buy and sell their own belongings to popularize the website and inspire confidence.

27. Taobao means “Searching for treasure.”

(Source: Celebrity Fun Facts)

The online shopping platform is similar to eBay, which wasn’t popular in China in 2003.

Taobao’s popularity increased rapidly. Two years later, Yahoo! bought a $1 billion share in Alibaba.

28. Alibaba’s revenue increased by 41% in fiscal 2021.

(Source: The Motley Fool)

Jack Ma’s net worth might be dropping, but Alibaba is on the rise.

Even though Alibaba’s market cap ($333 billion) is less than Amazon’s ($1.7 trillion), the Chinese giant has been growing steadily.

Experts predict that this growth will continue. They expect a 22% rise in 2022, 19% in 2023, and 18% in 2024.

In comparison, the growth for Amazon is 22%, 18%, 17%, respectively.

Wrap Up

Jack Ma is living proof that constant learning and hard work pay off. 

Despite being rejected multiple times, Jack Ma never forsakes his dreams and ideas.

He once said he likes Forrest Gump because the key to success is to never give up.

Have these Jack Ma facts inspired you to start a business in 2022?

His success story shows that if you try hard enough, you can aim for the stars.

Nick Galov
Nick Galov

Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.