In a recent blog post titled “What I learned from Jack Ma,” Richard Branson describes his encounter with the Alibaba CEO and shares his insights after the two titans of the entrepreneurial world met over breakfast.
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, never mentions how the meeting came about, but said that Jack Ma’s story was “filled with so many useful and amusing lessons that I barely had time to eat.”
In the blog post, Branson fleshes out Jack Ma’s story, a tale which many China watchers may already be familiar with, especially after last year Alibaba’s IPO became the biggest in history, valuing the e-commerce giant at $25 billion. Shortly after, Jack Ma dethroned Li Ka-shing as Asia’s richest person.
Jack Ma grew up living in poverty and did poorly academically, trying and failing three times to get into university. He did eventually make it into further education and quickly saw the internet as the future of business. Much to Branson’s amusement, Ma allegedly attempted to register the name “internet” during the nascent days of the web.
The two entrepreneurs appeared to share much in common with their philosophy towards business. Branson said that Jack Ma’s approach to hiring, “Don’t hire the most qualified, hire the craziest,” was a smart strategy. They also agreed with the assertion that the internet will create rather than destroy jobs in the coming years.
Although unlikely to damage the fortunes or prestige of Jack Ma, Alibaba was recently hit with a counterfeit-goods lawsuit, with several luxury good manufacturers accusing the company of consciously permitting its users to sell fake merchandise.
Earlier this month, the company also courted controversy after placing an advertisement for a female to fill the role of “programmer encouragement specialist,” specifying that the candidate should possess porn star qualities to rival those of Japanese AV star Sora Aoi.
By Dominic Jackson
[Image via Virgin]