An engrossing, insider’s account of how a teacher built one of the world’s most valuable companies—rivaling Walmart & Amazon—and forever reshaped the global economy.
In just a decade and half Jack Ma, a man from modest beginnings who started out as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into one of the world’s largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend. Alibaba’s $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest global IPO ever. A Rockefeller of his age who is courted by CEOs and Presidents around the world, Jack is an icon for China’s booming private sector and the gatekeeper to hundreds of millions of middle class consumers.
Duncan Clark first met Jack in 1999 in the small apartment where Jack founded Alibaba. Granted unprecedented access to a wealth of new material including exclusive interviews, Clark draws on his own experience as an early advisor to Alibaba and two decades in China chronicling the Internet’s impact on the country to create an authoritative, compelling narrative account of Alibaba’s rise.
How did Jack overcome his humble origins and early failures to achieve massive success with Alibaba? How did he outsmart rival entrepreneurs from China and Silicon Valley? Can Alibaba maintain its 80% market share? As it forges ahead into finance and entertainment, are there limits to Alibaba’s ambitions? How does the Chinese government view its rise? Will Alibaba expand further overseas, including in the U.S.?
Clark tells Alibaba’s tale in the context of China’s momentous economic and social changes, illuminating an unlikely corporate titan as never before.
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About the Author
Duncan Clark, a former Morgan Stanley investment banker and fluent Mandarin speaker, has lived and worked in China for more than twenty years. He heads a team of more than one hundred at BDA China, the investment advisory firm he founded in Beijing in 1994. An expert on China’s Internet sector, Clark is a former visiting scholar at Stanford University, where he welcomed Jack Ma on stage as a keynote speaker, along with the leaders of other leading China Internet firms including Baidu, Sina, and Tencent.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Iron Triangle 1
Chapter 2 Jack Magic 23
Chapter 3 From Student to Teacher 37
Chapter 4 Hope and Coming to America 53
Chapter 5 China Is Coming On 69
Chapter 6 Bubble and Birth 85
Chapter 7 Backers: Goldman and SoftBank 109
Chapter 8 Burst and Back to China 131
Chapter 9 Born Again: Taobao and the Humiliation of eBay 145
Chapter 10 Yahoo's Billion-Dollar Bet 181
Chapter 11 Growing Pains 207
Chapter 12 Icon or Icarus? 231