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2014-09-27 00:58[双语阅读] 来源: 浏览: 次 评论:0条

  In the year 1999, with the help of more than a dozen friends who pooled their resources - some $60,000 - Jack Ma, founded Alibaba, a business-to-business online platform. No one at that time would have thought a small start-up would initiate the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) on Wall Street, earning higher profits than those of interational giants like and eBay combined.


  Ma’s bold ambitions, which were birthed in a time when China was a digital backwater, were realized last week.


  The initial public offering, which will raise as much as $25 billion, cements his position as one of China’s richest.


  Charismatic and energetic, Ma is nicknamed “Crazy Jack Ma” and is seen as China’s version of Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, according to AP. And his story of starting an empire from scratch already makes him an inspiration to millions across China.


  Ma isn’t just popular because of his wealth. He also possesses communication skills that allow him to communicate with audiences from a wide variety of cultural contexts through roadshows and TV interviews.


  Reflecting on his success as a startup manager and English major, we try to analyze how Ma used his language skills to become an international superstar and profound visionary.


  Underdog who seized the moment


  Ma failed his college entrance exams twice. He managed to enroll in Hangzhou Normal University on his third attempt, where he studied English.


  He graduated in 1988 and taught English for years at the Hangzhou Institute of Electronic Engineering.


  Ma first experienced the Internet in 1995 on a short trip to Seattle. He can remember searching for the word “beer” on Yahoo!.


  Ma noticed there was not a single online listing for “China” and “beer”, unlike those that popped up for American and German beer.


  He quickly became obsessed with this online information system. Gradually, his obsession turned into a vision.


  According to USA Today, he believed in the Internet’s business potential when few other Chinese did. So in 1999, Alibaba, which is dedicated to promoting online businesses, was born in his apartment.


  At the time e-commerce was unheard of in China.


  “I called myself a blind man riding on the back of blind tigers,” he once said to The Guardian.


  It turns out he was right.


  “The business model Ma Yun created in China suited the Chinese market,” said Feng Pengcheng, director of the China Research Center for Capital Management at the University of International Business and Economics.


  “Ma seized opportunities as China was transforming into a market economy with the middle class unleashing buying power online on a significant scale.”



  Success in communication


  Many are surprised to see how good Ma’s command of English was in his IPO roadshow video and interview with Bloomberg after the listing (both video clips went viral online). He was always an English ethusiast. Starting at age 12, Ma says he awoke at 5 am to walk or bicycle to Hangzhou’s main hotel so he could practice his English with foreign tourists. He did this for nine years and acted as a free tour guide to many, befriending several groups along the way.


  “He is the opposite of stuffy and canned. He’s a funny, creative and a compelling speaker. I often thought he could have another career in stand-up comedy,” Said Duncan Clark, a Beijing-based technology consultant.


  Responding to rumors that Ma planned to move to Hong Kong next year on an investment immigration scheme, according to comment from The Guardian, “his speech was both patriotic and diplomatic, colloquial yet clearly well-planned. He explained that he had no plans to emigrate.”


  Describing his ideas to press in the US and UK, according to BBC, Ma often uses a dizzying array of visual symbols, such fish in a pond and gold bars falling from the sky.


  Sanjay Varma, a former Alibaba vice-president who now works in Hong Kong, still remembers how Ma could be such a convincing speaker when talking about his ambitions. He had long, late-night conversations with Ma about his ambitions in 1999, soon after the company was founded.


  “He really wanted to empower the little guys, the small companies,” said Varma.


  To use the wording of the BBC, it is a “rags-to-riches” story both for Ma and the millions who depended on the eco-system he forged in the digital age of Alibaba.



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