The online retail giant Alibaba has officially opened its first Southeast Asia office at Bangsar South, Kuala Lumpur on 18 June 2018. On its new office in Malaysia, business magnate Jack Ma has shared that Alibaba remains committed to investing in the country.
“This office is our first in Southeast Asia. It shows the commitment of Alibaba. In the past year, so many things had happened, but we never change our commitment to Malaysia. In every country that Alibaba goes to, we focus mainly on three things — to digitalise local partners, support and empower small businesses and young people to go global.”
The Alibaba Malaysia office will serve as a training centre to encourage more Malaysians to trade globally.
Here are 8 amazing facts about Alibaba and its co-founder Jack Ma:
1. He started out as an English teacher
After graduating from Hangzhou Teachers University – now known as Hangzhou Normal University – with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1988, Jack was the only one chosen out of 500 students to be a university teacher. Then, he was earning between RMB 100 to 120 per month, which was equivalent to RM 50 to RM 60. Yet, he managed to spend a total of five years teaching before deciding to move on to other things.
2. That being said, he failed his university application twice
During an interview with Inc, he informed that although the Hangzhou Teacher’s University could be considered as the worst in the city, he has managed to fail his admission exam two times. He also admitted that he wasn’t really a good student to begin with. “I failed a key primary school test two times. I failed the middle school test three times. I failed the college entrance exam two times. And when I graduated, I was rejected for most jobs I applied for out of college.”
3. Jack was rejected for a job application at KFC
After leaving his five-year career as an English teacher, Jack started his search for other opportunities. One of it was at a local KFC branch in Hangzhou. Not only was he rejected by the fast-food chain, Jack was the only applicant out of the 24 candidates who didn’t get hired. After that incident, he decided to pursue his own business instead.
4. Jack’s first search inquiry on Yahoo was the keyword “beer”
He first saw a computer during a trip to Seattle as an interpreter in 1995 at the age of 31, when a friend showed the internet to him. During that time, he realised that there wasn’t any data regarding China on the internet. So, he got the idea to launch his first big business called China Yellow Pages, which sadly failed.
5. Alibaba started in a humble Hangzhou apartment
While Apple was founded in Steve Jobs’ family garage and FaceBook in a frat house, Alibaba was established in Jack’s Hangzhou apartment in 1999. His first employee had to sleep, eat and work around the clock at the house, as well as over time.
6. Alibaba hired farmers for its sales force
When Alibaba was looking to hire its first sales team, it knew it couldn’t afford to pay the recent graduates of top China’s universities. Instead, the company decided to hire young people from rural, farming backgrounds.
7. Taobao was a top-secret project to counter eBay
Jack launched Taobao in 2009 as a response to eBay’s growing presence in China. To that, six employees were hand-picked to develop it. They didn’t know what the project was until they officially resigned from the company. They were even placed at a secret location to work on it. Nobody, including the Alibaba team, knew about this project until Jack himself revealed it.
8. eBay tried everything to stop Alibaba
During its battle with Alibaba, eBay pulled all the stops it had, including its attempt to persuade Bill Clinton to back out of a keynote speech at Alibaba’s annual summit. Among the few is by sending screenshots of illicit items sold on Alibaba platforms – AK-47s, uranium and counterfeit goods – to the Clinton team. eBay founder Pierre Omidyar was also reported to have personally called Clinton on this matter.