Jack Ma, the founder and owner of the Chinese e-commerce website Alibaba, met on Thursday with Tel Aviv University students to share some tips for life.
Ma was awarded with an honorary doctorate from the university. He told the students that Alibaba is considering expanding its investments in Israel.
“We considered Israel among three countries in which to establish offices. We invested in five different companies here, and I am being accompanied by 40 senior managers. I believe we will continue to invest here,” he said.
The 50-year-old Ma is the wealthiest man in China. He accumulated his wealth when he founded the Alibaba Group in 1999.
At first, the company focused on the Chinese market before becoming one of the most successful e-commerce websites in the world with tens of millions of online customers.
Mat spoke about how he learned English by working as a tour guide in his youth and about his failed attempts to get accepted into Harvard, which rejected his application ten times. He ultimately studied to be an English teacher at a local Chinese university, an unpleasant experience in his words.
When asked by one student whether he looks at the diplomas of potential employees, he laughed and responded: “No, because then I myself would not get accepted to work at our company.”
When he arrived in the United States in the mid-1990s, a friend introduced him to the internet, and he was surprised to learn he could not find any information on it about China. Ma decided to create a webpage about his country and thus began his love affair with the internet.
Ma told the students that he would have liked to have met Albert Einstein and Karl Marx.
“All our founders come from not such good schools, but we all believed in the future,” he told them. “When we became millionaires, I asked my partners whether we were smarter than other people, and they said no. I asked them whether we worked harder than others, and they again said no. smart men left the company, but those who believed in the vision stayed. It does not matter where you are from but what you believe in; therefore, I tell people that what matters most is what you do.”
When asked what he wants for his children, he said he hoped they will not be like him. “To be me, is to be alone and responsible for many people and not everybody wants that. I want my kids to be healthy and work in what they desire. The job of a parent is to give his children three things: health, happiness and education. The rest is up to them.”
Regarding Alibaba’s success, he said: “I never thought I would turn into what I am today, that I would achieve so much. We have 17,000 employees, millions of users. We support women and small businesses and help them succeed.
“When you have more than $100 million, the money is not yours, you have a social responsibility to manage it well. We understood that we need to build a sufficiently large economy to allow the growth of small businesses, for every woman and youngster to succeed. We created 13 million new jobs in China. We are the fifth biggest economy in the world.”