Jack Ma Facts

Jack Ma is set to step down from Alibaba on Monday (10 Sep). He was the leader of 18 people that started Alibaba and oversaw the company’s rapid growth. In 20 years, the company’s worth has ballooned to around US$420 billion (S$580 billion).

Although the official narrative is that Mr Ma was born in China, we’re not so sure. Here are 5 reasons that he’s basically Singaporean.

1. Paid respects to Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Jack Ma was among the thousands who visited Parliament House in March 2015 to pay respects to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

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While Mr Jack Ma made no public comments about Mr Lee, his admiration for the statesman is clear.

2. Runs SkillsFuture classes

Local businessman who want to run their ventures like Mr Jack Ma can learn from the man himself at Alibaba Business College. The college partnered NTUC’s Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to train and certify e-commerce talents.

But the courses will help Singaporeans chart their own path instead of just following Mr Ma’s. The Southeast Asian programme director said,

Everybody wants to become Jack Ma. But we want to help more Singaporeans focus on their own (success) story, not just Jack Ma’s story.

Some of these classes can be paid for using your SkillsFuture credit.

3. Loves Maggi Mee

What does Mr Jack Ma eat for lunch? If we had the kind of money he did, we’d be having a feast every day, going for red sushi plates and all.

But Mr Ma is a little more humble–and classy–than us. Reports say that he has been eating the same thing for lunch for 18 years. Foie gras? Try again. Steak? Not so luxe.

It’s actually instant noodles.

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Here’s a photo of Mr Ma eating his noodles, although with crockery that looks fancy AF and not the Daiso spoons we use.

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So if Mr Ma can eat noodles, so can you.

4. Durian-crazy

Give a Singaporean a durian and he eats it. Give Mr Jack Ma a durian and he eats it.

Give a Singaporean 80,000 durians and he sells it–or gives it away. Give Mr Jack Ma 80,000 durians and he sells it in a minute.

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That’s right. The e-commerce whizz sold 80,000 golden pillow durians online in a minute. Maybe that’s why he’s Mr Jack Ma and why we’re not.

5. He has a work alias

What could be more Singaporean than this? We’re pretty sure Bess Ting wasn’t named that when she was born. But she knew it was marketing gold and went with it.

Same with Mr Jack Ma, who was born Ma Yun. Adding a Jack to his name made it easier for him to transact with westerners and grow Alibaba.

C’mon how many Somasundarams do you know who have shortened their names to “Sam”? And let’s not forget the Chua Ah Bengs who become “Charles” when selling insurance.

An inspiration

Jokes aside, we realise that Mr Ma is a great inspiration to Chinese as well as Singaporeans. He’s also an inspiration to those outside the business community, since many of his lessons are transferable across sectors.

As Mr Ma celebrates his 54th birthday on Monday, we wish him a happy birthday and a comfortable retirement.

You’ve earned it.

Featured image from Business Insider.