An engrossing insider's account of how a teacher built one of the world's most valuable companies - rivaling Walmart and Amazon - and forever reshaped the global economy.
In just a decade and a half, Jack Ma, a man from modest beginnings who started out as an English teacher, founded Alibaba and built it into one of the world's largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend. Alibaba's $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest global IPO ever. A Rockefeller of his age who is courted by CEOs and presidents around the world, Jack is an icon for China's booming private sector and the gatekeeper to hundreds of millions of middle-class consumers.
Duncan Clark first met Jack in 1999 in the small apartment where Jack founded Alibaba. Granted unprecedented access to a wealth of new material including exclusive interviews, Clark draws on his own experience as an early advisor to Alibaba and two decades in China chronicling the Internet's impact on the country to create an authoritative, compelling narrative account of Alibaba's rise.
How did Jack overcome his humble origins and early failures to achieve massive success with Alibaba? How did he outsmart rival entrepreneurs from China and Silicon Valley? Can Alibaba maintain its 80 percent market share? As it forges ahead into finance and entertainment, are there limits to Alibaba's ambitions? How does the Chinese government view its rise? Will Alibaba expand further overseas, including in the US?
Clark tells Alibaba's tale in the context of China's momentous economic and social changes, illuminating an unlikely corporate titan as never before.
©2016 Duncan Clark (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
I knew very little about Jack Ma and Alibaba. It's truly amazing what he's built despite incredible odds.
Full of really interesting info, however I found it a little laborious to listen to.
I'm a Chinese raised and educated in New Zealand. I found it very difficult to understand who and what the narrator was referring to because he obviously hasn't learnt any pin yin. Huge let down for what would otherwise be a great read!
good to listen - goes a bit off tangent to pad out the story though
Having listened to a lot of business biographies, this one moves at a decent pace and gets into the right details. A balance of personal and business narrative as they both go through different challenges. I found this really helpful and leads me to want to know more about China's tech landscape.
What was annoying was how the narrator mispronounces many of the Chinese names and words, it would have been good if the narrator nailed them before recording the book. It throws you out of what is otherwise a well narrated book.
"Interesting story, bad narration"
While it did contain some critical info on the development of the China's dotcom industry as well as some bitesized nuggets of Jack Ma wisdom, I found myself continually wincing at the narrator's pronunciation of the names of Chinese individuals and places. However, this is just one of many audiobooks on China blighted by this headache-inducing problem.
"Mispronunciation kills me"
While the story is amazing, the obvious lack of effort in correct Chinese pronunciation hurts my ears and takes away so much from the book.
This performance is so vastly different from the likes of "Chaos Monkeys" in which the reader eloquently pronounced various Italian and French phrases.
"Terrible narration if you know Chinese mars good book"
The book itself is both interesting and insightful. As somebody engaged in the China Internet space for work, and consequently very familiar with the content I found learned quite a bit about personalities and backstory delivered in engaging prose. True the book is very pro Jack and BABA but this is not a surprise, and does not obscure facts.
But if you know any Chinese, preparing to spend the entire book alternating between cringing and puzzling over the generally incomprehensible narration of every single Chinese word other than Alibaba, Ma, and Tsai. The inability to select a Chinese speaker to conduct narration on a book about China is inexplicable and disappointing.
"Strange: Best part of story happens "off-screen""
"Alibaba" is a good book despite a near-fatal flaw. The author is an investor and he cares about what investors care about: deal-making, IPO's, threats to valuations, etc. Sometimes he lets that interest overshadow the actual storytelling.
One example is so flagrant it is hilarious. Most of the launch of Alibaba—surely the critical turning point of Jack Ma's life—happens "off-screen." We learn about some deal-making that went into convincing the first employees to join the project. A page or two later we learn about a deal with some early investors, and as a note in that deal Clark mentions Alibaba had by then gained over 250,000 customers. Nothing worth mentioning went into getting their first quarter million customers?
Such moments of early launch play a central role in Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" and Vance's "Elon Musk." In this book, it was left out. The omission leaves a big question open. Clark notes that Ma runs a technology company despite knowing nothing about coding or the internet's machinery . How did he do that? I would like to know. The book skipped over that part.
Clark makes other strange choices. He describes the life story and character of multiple Chinese entrepreneurs and then never returns to them.
And yet, despite all this, it's a good book and it's worth reading. The perspective of an investor on one of the world's highest valued companies is interesting. He appears to do a great job conveying what it's like to do business in China and the history of entrepreneurship in the country. Jack Ma's life makes for a compelling story—despite some of the odd choices in focus.
Should you read Alibaba? Yes. Chinese technology firms are starting to overtake silicon valley ones in a number of arenas. It's a good idea to understand what they are all about, and it's a fun book to do it with. Just join me at rolling your eyes at Clark's investor-myopia.
No solo es una historis de Jack Ma, me gusta como relata la historia del emprendimiento en China.
"AMAZON AND E-BAY COMBINED"
A good overview of the Alibaba story. Until I listened to this book, I wasn't aware of the nature of the company, thought that it was just another Amazon, but found that it was more akin to E-Bay.
"very good book"
i would recommand this book to anybody who has interest in international business. you will learn alot. this is particalarly good for us audiance who don t know much about chenise companies and how they operate differently.
"A worthwhile story"
Great story about Jack Ma. It details the inspiring story of Alibaba's incredible growth and immense dominance in China and the world at large. I enjoyed the well paced and pleasant reading.
"Good overview but not super deep"
I came in not knowing really anything about Jack Ma or Alibaba so now I do have a better idea of the overall story but having just read Shoe Dog (on Phil Knight) and The Everything Store (on Amazon) I was a little disappointed. This book seems like the perspective of N outsider where the other two are more internal. This is a good book but I wouldn't classify as great.
"Don't let negative narrator comments deter you"
This was a great listen. A lot of reviewers say the narration was brutal but it wasn't. Unless you are a native mandarin speaker you won't know the difference and it's really not a bother. The book is great.
An interesting story told in a very boring way, like a dry, unchallenging newspaper article. What a shame. Had to listen at x2 speed to get through in double quick, toe-curling time.
"Very average book"
The Chinese pronunciation is really terrible as other listeners have mentioned. The story isn't great either. You never really get to know Jack Ma and there isn't much backing to statements like 'Jack Magic'. It's almost like a Wikipedia article mixed with some hearsay and a few newspaper articles. I'd give Steve Jobs book 5 out of 5. In contrast this book struggles to get 2 out of 5.
great story of a man that went from rags to riches. a book I really enjoyed listening to.
"Commentary with little insight"
Didn't get passed chapter 2 before losing the will to listen any further.
Learned little that's not already published in interviews and profiles.
It's very Informative and Educational. Greatly impressed with Jack Ma. Wish Alibaba ALL Success. Congratulations!
Brilliant book loved every minute of the listen. twice I listen straight after the first time
Narrator was good. The book gave an indication of how Alibaba and Jack MA operate. This from beginning to set up an Internet giant in China to a household name around the world. Worth reading.
it's a great book you learn allot I would recommend it. it's interesting to know how China operates.
"great insight to one of the world's smartest men"
good read and great insight to a man that has helped so many entrepreneurs. highly recommended!
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