He’s one of those trendy major success stories. He’s basically gone viral in China. Especially after Alibaba IPO. His net worth is like $44 billion. I didn’t really care enough to learn more about him. What I did remember was that he was an academically dull student. From his Wiki page:
Later in his youth, Ma struggled attending college. The Chinese entrance exams are held only once a year and Ma took four years to pass. Ma attended Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute (currently known as Hangzhou Normal University) and graduated in 1988 with a B.A. in English.
Okay back then, only a small percentage actually attended college (like 5%, maybe 10%). In the end, he could only get into a bullshit major in a shit tier school.
It seems like he was basically a complete loser until his mid thirties.
Jack Ma applied for 30 different jobs and got rejected by all. “I went for a job with the police; they said, ‘you’re no good,'” Ma told interviewer Charlie Rose. “I even went to KFC when it came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted. I was the only guy…”. In addition to this, he applied 10 times to Harvard Business School (HBS) and got rejected.
It’s funny he even applied for the police because I just learned he’s only 5′ 0″ (152 cm). Those people hiring in the police department were probably like, “who is this midget twit.” He doesn’t know shit about programming or computing and basically hired people who did to actually create Alibaba. (Added on February 2018: someone with insider information told me that he was not good at business operations either but managed to hire people who were to do that for him as well.) I’m ever more convinced that he mostly was extremely lucky. There are zillions of average IQ people with entrepreneurial spirit in China, and I’ve had encounters with some of them myself. Most will only attain modest success. Sadly, people, even in China, are statistically delusional, and actually believe his success was mostly due to skill or “unusual business sense.”
I was just talking about this in a group chat. I wrote the following:
Honestly I’d respect a serious engineer/scientist in, say, the space program in China more than Jack Ma just about any day.
Mostly because there is actually real skill/depth/substance in that. The people who developed China’s nuclear weapons/missiles and satellites unambiguously created much more value for China than Alibaba did. They, the top scientists and engineers behind that, of course merely earned high salaries from the government. In contrast, the leverage China obtained internationally from that, in addition to the technical foundation essential for later economic development is easily on the order of trillions of dollars. Not that what Jack Ma did didn’t have a lot of value. It did, but it’s way overhyped, and more importantly, more people could have in theory lucked into that than there are people with the IQ to, say, master calculus, which by the standards of any serious STEM R&D would be but extremely rudimentary, more or less taken for granted.
This phenomenon is everywhere. In America, when Steve Jobs dies, it’s like the end of the world. When Dennis Ritchie dies, few people actually care. China, much thanks to a combination of Confucian culture and its hard-core communist past, is much better in this regard. But it has degenerated too, sadly. It’s quite problematic that now in China, young people aspire more to be Jack Ma than to be Qian Xuesen (钱学森). Mostly because of money. More convinced I am now that most of what is still culturally healthy left in China today can be traced back to the Maoist era. Yes, there was persecution of intellectuals, much of it an unintended side effect, especially during the Cultural Revolution. But overall, the serious scientists/engineers were highly respected, and even the top political leaders like Mao and Zhou paid close attention to them and their needs; the political attacks against them mostly came from below as a side effect of political movements. They were paid high salaries and given higher benefits, which is what should be done given their talent and importance to the country. Remember that back then, everybody was dirt poor and there were no jock entrepreneurs lucking out on millions.
Now we have an epidemic of highly talented, cultured, hardworking, perceptive, and well-meaning people in STEM being treated like shit, let alone the average Joe, so that more resources and wealth can be concentrated in the hands of idiot businessmen and corrupt politicians. This changes the culture too to value money above substance. There needs to be a strong counterforce to that, and only a powerful government and state controlled media run by actual smart, cultured people dedicated to preservation of national interest and communist orthodoxy can achieve this.