(K. Brent Tomer),
Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built. By Duncan Clark. Ecco; 287 pages; $27.99 and £18.99.
NOT since John Rockefeller has a businessman defined a country’s transformation as well as Jack Ma does. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil capitalised on the rise of petroleum and the internal-combustion engine, a combination that powered a century of American greatness. He became America’s first billionaire and its richest man by far. Through both ruthless dealing and visionary philanthropy, he came to personify American capitalism.
Alibaba, which Mr Ma and a handful of collaborators started in a cramped apartment in Hangzhou in 1999, is now one of the world’s biggest internet companies. It utterly dominates e-commerce in China, and has also made inroads into internet finance, cloud computing and logistics. Its flotation in New York in 2014 was the biggest public offering ever, and with a fortune worth perhaps $23 billion, Mr Ma is one of China’s richest men.
How did a poor boy who barely scraped into a teacher’s college manage this? Like Rockefeller, Mr Ma spotted a confluence of technologies and market…Continue reading