Ma Yun, pioneer of
Ma Yun is chief executive officer (CEO) of the Hangzhou-based Alibaba
Networking Technology Co in east China's Zhejiang Province.
A former teacher of English in Zhejiang, Ma started the country's first
e-commerce website - www.china.alibaba.com - in 1998.
In just six years, it has become the leader in its field, serving well over
50,000 member traders in 200 countries and regions, with an annual business
turnover amounting to about US$10 billion.
Heaven stands by iron-willed men
Ma's story seems legendary.
"The first few years were pretty good for us," he recalled.
"In 2001 and 2002, however, the so-called 'Internet bubble' exploded and
because of that, staying alive became our top concern."
Despite the adversity, Ma did not give up his ambition of turning the company
into the greatest of its kind in the world.
"I believe in the Chinese proverb 'Heaven stands by iron-willed men,'" he
told the audience.
"Heaven," so to speak, did come to his rescue between late April and early
July of 2003 when the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak hit
"For a time, travel, visits and conferences had to be cancelled.
"Suddenly, business people realized that transactions could be negotiated and
concluded via the Internet and that business people did not have to meet
face-to-face. Alibaba boomed overnight," Ma said.
In 2003, Alibaba generated an average of 1 million yuan (US$121,000) per day
Since the beginning of 2004, it has yielded a daily average of 1 million yuan
in net profit.
For 2005, "the company aims at paying 1 million yuan in taxes per day,
leaving a net profit of at least 2 million yuan (US$241,800)."
Asked about the secret of his success, Ma cited the famous tale about the
race between the tortoise and the hare, where the former won.
To be successful in this world, he said, "you must combine the merits of
both: the speed of the hare and the endurance and willpower of the tortoise."
In 2004, Alibaba invested US$84 million in business expansion, mainly in
Alibaba is not the only Chinese business that has begun to develop itself
overseas, or "go global."
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