Jack Ma became the richest man in China, when the company he founded floated on the stock market last year with a value of around 140 billion - the largest public offering in history.
Alibaba, often referred to as China' s answer to eBay and Amazon, now has 100 million visitors every day, said Ma at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.
Ma was interviewed by Charlie Rose, and revealed a unique insight into the story behind his success.
1. "Beer" was the first word that Jack Ma searched for on the internet
Back in 1995 Ma made his first trip to the US and used the internet for the first time. After searching for "beer", he saw that no results came up relating to China. When he then searched for "China" and still saw no results, he decided to set up a Chinese website - the seed for Alibaba had been sown.
2. Jack Ma applied to study at Harvard 10 times and was rejected each time
Ma said he has had to deal with rejection many times in his life: He failed the entry exams for colleges in China three times and was also rejected for many jobs in China, including one at KFC.
The billionaire said he was turned down by the prestigious Harvard 10 times after applying, in reply Charlie Rose quipped "they’re sorry now".
3. Forest Gump is Jack Ma’s hero
Forest Gump "never gives up" and believes in what he is doing, said Ma. He also quoted the phrase "Life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get", adding that he could never have foreseen that he would end up at Davos talking about his success.
4. Jack Ma learnt English by giving tourists free guides - every day for nine years
Limited resources meant it was difficult to learn English when Ma was younger. However, he found that he could learn the language by giving tourists free tours around his hometown of Hangzhou- something that he did during his teenage years every morning for nine years. Ma said that the tourists "opened my mind" because everything they said and did was so different to what he had been taught at school and by his parents.
马云小的时候，因为各种资源有 限所以学英语比较困难。但是当时十几岁的他发现，在他的家乡杭州通过给外国游客当导游可以学习英语，于是他坚持了九年每天早上给外国游客做义务导游。马云 说那些游客开阔了他的眼界，因为他们所说所做的一切都不同于他从学校和父母那里学到的东西。
5. A tourist gave Jack Ma his English name
Jack Ma’s Chinese name is Ma Yun; he was given the name Jack by a tourist who later became a pen-friend. She struggled with his Chinese name and asked if she could call him Jack, because both her husband and father were also called Jack.
/prɛ'stɪdʒəs/ adj. 有名望的