Alibaba’s Jack Ma Says Life Was Better When He Was Still Earning Small

Alibaba’s Jack Ma Says Life Was Better When He Was Still Earning Small
Alibaba coffee Charles Chan / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

If Jack Ma could make a wish to his fairy godmother, he might wish to take back time to when life was simpler and he was happier with just $12 a month in his pocket.


This was specifically during the late 1980s when he worked as an English teacher at a university in his hometown. In a speech before the Economic Club of New York, China’s richest man said those years were the “best life I had.”

Still, the founder and chairman of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba said he wants to help businesses, especially small ones, to sell to China. That’s why he’s in the United States so he can help the Americans gain the trust of the Chinese. His only desire is that the U.S. firms will help push Alibaba reach its target of $1 trillion in the next five years.

Still, when he talks of the time his company finally went IPO, he sounds like he wants to take the decision back. “Life is tough when you IPO … If I had another life, I would keep my company private.” Alibaba went IPO in September 2014, and it less than a year, it had raised a record $25 billion.

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He said the IPO made him rich, but it also made him prey to people who just “surround you for money.”

There are also the investors. “It’s not only our people that watch us, the globe watches us. You have to get used to it,” Ma said.

It’s been a rollercoaster ride since eight months ago. Alibaba priced its IPO in September at $68 a share, but the reality is, it is trading only below $88 at present. In January, Alibaba’s shares tumbled when it failed to meet Wall Street’s expectations. The reprimand is received from regulators in China concerning the influx of counterfeit and pirated goods also affected the company.

“If you have less than $1 million, you know how to spend the money,” he said. “But once you top $1 billion, you’re obligated to spend your riches on behalf of the society.”

Ma doesn’t even relish the title China’s richest man. Proven yet again that money cannot really make one very happy.