iPrice: A brief history of Jack Ma and how he met his founders

Recently, Jack Ma announced his retirement from a 19 year in the making the success of Alibaba Group, at the age of 54. He led the company from his humble beginnings back in his apartment to now what is known as an e-commerce giant worth US$420 billion today.

Along with the announcement, Daniel Zhang was named as the successor of Ma as Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.

Jack Ma is notably the face of Alibaba, however, there are in fact, 17 other significant individuals that co-founded the e-commerce giant since its inception in 1999. But who are they?

As such, iPrice Group embarked on a research to uncover the 18 founding members of Alibaba Group and summarised our findings in an infographic.



From this report, we found several interesting insights. Among them, the co-founders were from diverse industries such as journalism, investment , web developers, education and many others.

Ma’s connections were established through his ex-student, ex-colleagues, mutual friends and like-minded entrepreneurs. Interestingly, there are three couples in the founding members namely: Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Shi Yufeng and Jin Yuanying, Toto Sun and Lucy Peng.

Amongst the 18 co-founders were six women who now holds top-level management roles, such as Lucy Peng. She was recently appointed as the CEO of Lazada in March 2018 while a majority of founding members hold significant roles within Alibaba and its subsidiaries.

To discover more about Alibaba’s co-founders, here are further details of how they met Jack Ma, their history prior to the founding of Alibaba and where they are now:

Jack Ma – Executive Chairman, Alibaba Group
Ma was born on September 10, 1964, in Hangzhou, , at the time of communism. In 1988, Ma successfully earned his degree in English from Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute. Later, Ma even became an English and International Trade lecturer at the Hangzhou Dianzi University. Eventually, he ventured into business and founded Yellow Pages, the first Internet company in the country. Ma also managed an information technology company for the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Commerce. Later in 1999, Ma initiated a meeting in his apartment together with his 17 co-founders to develop their first eCommerce venture which is now known to be the giant Alibaba Group.

Today, Ma is the CEO and Chairman of Alibaba which has grown exponentially since its inception in 1999. Currently, Alibaba has more than 79 million users in 240 countries with six active subsidiaries namely: Alibaba.com, Tmall.com, eTao, Alibaba Cloud Computing, Taobao Marketplace, and Yahoo! China.

At age 54, Ma announced his retirement as Chairman of Alibaba Group in one year to concentrate his efforts in his philanthropy and education, passing his position to Daniel Zhang.

Jin Jianhang – President, Alibaba Group



Jin Jianhang was a top performing student from Fudan Journalism School and has worked at numerous Chinese Media:  Zhejiang Daily, Intl. Business Daily.
Jin and Ma’s first encounter happened during Jin’s interview with the entrepreneur back in his China Yellow Pages.
Later in 1999, Ma started Alibaba Group along with his trusted friends where Jianhang decided to come along.

Joseph Tsai – Executive Vice Chairman, Alibaba Group
Tsai has an undergraduate degree in Economics and East Asian studies and a law degree. Prior to meeting Ma, Tsai was an investment banker earning approximately US$700k annually.
Deeply inspired by Jack’s charisma and his idea for Alibaba, he made a daring move to give up his high-end job to join Alibaba in 1999 and earned only US$50 monthly.
Today Tsai is the Vice Executive Chairman and co-founder of Alibaba Group and ranks as its second-largest individual shareholder after chairman Jack Ma.

Lucy Peng – CEO, Lazada
Similar to Ma, Peng began her career as a teacher at the Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics. She married Sun Tongyu, in 1997.
Peng quit teaching in 1999 to join her husband, Sun Tongyu as part of the 18-strong Alibaba founding team.
She was recently assigned as the CEO of Lazada following Alibaba’s investment of an additional US$2 billion into the marketplace.

Cathy Zhang – Married to Jack Ma, full time homemaker
Zhang first met Ma at the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute. Soon after graduation, they got married.
In 1999, Jack told Zhang about his plan for Alibaba and along with other partners began working towards the vision.
Zhang was in Alibaba’s management team and now dedicates her time raising a family with Ma.

Eddie Wu – Chairman, AliHealth
Wu graduated with a Computer Science degree from the Zhejiang University of Technology in 1996 and later joined China Yellow Pages where he was acquainted with Jack Ma. Following Ma’s footsteps, Wu joined Ma in building Alibaba Group as the first programmer out of the 18 founders.

James Sheng – Managing Director, Alibaba
Sheng began learning traditional art at an early age. He turned to commercial art and started his career as a designer. He was acquainted with Jack Ma when James’ company was hired to design China Yellow Pages’ website.
Sheng joined Jack Ma’s meeting in his apartment and became one of the 18 founding members of Alibaba in 1999.
Today, Sheng is known to be the man behind Alibaba’s smile logo and is the Co-founder and Senior Vice President of the Alibaba Group.

Simon Xie – Vice President, Alibaba China Investment Team
Xie obtained his degree in Financial Management from the Shenyang University of Technology and later worked for the China National Air Separation Engineering Co., Ltd. With his interest in computer, he developed his basic skills in Information Technology and managed to practice this skills for work.
In 1996, Xie had the chance to meet Ma during China Yellow Pages.  Attracted by Ma’s unique aura, he gave up his high paying job in finance decided to follow Ma’s ventures.

Other co-founders with no information of their current role at Alibaba Group:



Lou Wensheng
Lou and Ma were university mates at the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute. Lou eventually became one of Ma’s close supporter. Lou decided to join Chinese Yellow Pages after seeing a feature of the company in 1995 Oriental Horizon TV documentary.

Jin Yuanying
Jin was Ma’s student at the Hangzhou Dianzi University and later was encouraged by Jane Jiang and Han Min to join Alibaba Group.

Zhou Yuehong
Zhou is a Java architect, Ma was his teacher at the Hangzhou Dianzi University. With his expertise in technology, Zhou developed the core code of MVC framework – WebX, which was used mainly for Taobao early days.

Shi Yufeng
In 1999, Shi was employed by the Central Weather Bureau.
Eddie Wu, one Alibaba co-founders, discovered Shi’s works from the internet. Wu introduced Shi to Ma and Shi was immediately attracted by Ma’s passion for Alibaba and decided to join the ecommerce company.

Click here to view more insights of Alibaba’s co-founders here.

Jeremy Chew is the senior content marketer for iPrice group, the fastest growing product meta-search platform in Southeast Asia. For further information, please visit https://iprice.my.

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Source: Borneo Post Online







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