Jack Ma Is As Jack Ma Does

Mark LennihanAP Images

And recently, Jack Ma does very well, thank you.

USA Today is reporting that Jack became this week’s Wall Street Whiz Kid on Friday after Jack’s company, Alibaba, had its initial public offering (IPO). When stocks opened, Alibaba stock opened at $68 a share. The stock ended the day at $98 a share, one of the fastest company growths seen on Wall Street.

Jack, a 50-year-old man of Chinese descent, watched his company gather $21.3 billion for Alibaba, marking the company market worth at $231.4 billion, more than Facebook and Amazon.com by market cap.

Jack himself jumped into the top 100 wealthiest men in the world after Friday. Jack sold 12.75 million shares in the IPO, a portion of the over 206 million shares he owns. With that sale, Jack’s net worth jumped over $18 billion, putting him 71st in the wealthiest 100 list.

All this after 15 years living in Hangzhou in eastern China, just getting by, barely. Jack needed inspiration, a voice. Jack found that inspiration in Tom Hanks’ portrayal of the titular character in Forest Gump.

“I’ve been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time when I’m frustrated I watch the movie,” Jack told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” before Jack’s company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange. “I watched the movie before I came to New York.”

According to the Daily Mail, Jack’s trip to the top was a long, arduous one. Living in Hangzhou was tough, especially when you can’t find higher pay. Jack worked as a teacher but wanted more. Jack applied to many jobs, none would hire him. Even the Kentucky Fried Chicken in the Chinese village wouldn’t hire him. One day, Jack got a lucky break; a job as a translator in the United States opened up in 1995. He applied for, and got the job.

When he got to the United States, Jack saw something that filled him with fascination and promise; the internet. China did not yet have the internet, and Jack was anxious to go back home and bring the internet to China. In 1999, he and 17 friends began laying the groundwork for China’s contribution to the world wide web. Jack and his associates suffered through the initial dial-up stage, which loaded half a page in 3 1/2 hours. Eventually, they had a stable, working internet, then decided to create a website to rival Silicon Valley. Their answer was Alibaba.

Alibaba has been described as a mix of eBay and Amazon. Actually, Alibaba handles more packages than eBay and Amazon combined. And Alibaba sells close to everything, from live animals to a statue of an overweight and naked Arnold Schwarzenegger (it’s on the Alibaba website, for $16,800).

Now, Ma has taken his dream public, and it has made him and his employees wealthy. With China’s online purchasing expected to triple in the next three years, their success seems a good bet.