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UPDATED: September 28, 2014 NO. 41 OCTOBER 9, 2014
Alibaba Begins a New Era

China's leading e-commerce company Alibaba Group was successfully listed on the New York Stock Exchange on September 19. The unconventional and spirited Jack Ma, founder of the group, has since become the center of attention.

The share price of Alibaba increased 38.07 percent to reach $231 billion, presenting the largest initial public offering in history on the New York Stock Exchange and making it the world's second largest Internet firm, following Google.

Ma, who formerly worked as a college English teacher, was introduced to the Internet for the first time by a friend in Seattle in 1995. With mere 20,000 yuan ($3,260) in initial capital, he set up his first Internet company in April 1995, which specialized in making website homepages for Chinese businesses. In March 1999, with the help of friends, he founded Alibaba, a business-to-business online platform, with an investment of 500,000 yuan ($81,500). Over the past 15 years, Ma has managed to make this business an immense success amid both praise and incredulity.

Ma's success is largely attributable to his deep insight and China's rapid economic growth. He has recognized the power of the Internet and seized the opportunities associated with China's rising economy. Alibaba.com has been consistently promoting China's export-oriented companies abroad, allowing them to obtain more sizable orders from overseas. The website has twice been chosen as one of the world's best business-to-business websites by Forbes, an influential American business magazine. The online shopping website Taobao.com and the third-party online payment solution Alipay, launched by Alibaba in 2003 and 2004, respectively, have transformed China's retail business and payment systems while boosting the domestic logistics industry.

Ma's rags-to-riches story is encouraging to millions of young Chinese people intent on starting their own business or in the beginning stages of growing their ventures. Ma has said on multiple occasions that if he could succeed in his business, 80 percent of young entrepreneurs can, too. He has always pursued idealism, personal responsibility, and positivity. To the tens of thousands of Alibaba employees, whose average age is 26, he has promoted the belief that they work at the company not just to make money, but also to benefit society.

Now that Alibaba has entered the international arena, to the shock and awe of Wall Street, Ma understands that the road ahead will be even bumpier. Alibaba's listing will bring new challenges and new opportunities for further growth and innovation, in China and around the world.

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