Word association- Quick! What image comes to mind when you hear “Alibaba”?
For me, until a few months ago, it was definitely the first image. I had never heard of Alibaba.com or Jack Ma- (was I living under a rock?) But then my husband brought home this book from our local library and suggested that we read it together:
Alibaba’s World: How a Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business by Porter Erisman
The Wall Street Journal named it one of their best 6 business books of 2015.
Now I don’t read business books very often and this one sounds very geeky, but it is not. It’s the story of a remarkable man, Jack Ma. Ma had many early failures in life, but he eventually became an English teacher in his home country of China. Around, 1995, when introduced to the Internet, he was surprised to find virtually no content on Chinese products and he started building websites for Chinese businesses. Eventually he created a business-to-business site that reflected Chinese culture and business practices. This is a fascinating rag-to-riches story of his struggles, persistence and eventual success. His company ultimately changed global commerce. (How often do you buy something that was made in China?)
Written by a former American vice-president of the company, Porter Erisman, the story has also been made into a movie-Crocodile in the Yangtze. You can find interviews of Jack Ma on Youtube- There is even an interview that President Obama did with him in 2015.
Alibaba’s World How a Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business –a recommended read!