11 Quotes That Illustrate The Strange, Relentless Genius Of Alibaba Founder Jack Ma

Jack Ma AlibabaChina Photo / Getty ImagesAlibaba founder Jack Ma

Alibaba, the enormous Chinese e-commerce company, is expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange this Friday.

At its helm is founder Jack Ma, a charismatic leader who started the company with 18 friends out of his small apartment in 1999. Although Ma is no longer CEO of Alibaba, he’s still the face of the company.

Ma has succeeded because he is relentless, and some of his more memorable quotes — “Today is cruel, tomorrow is crueler” — illustrate how that relentlessness has formed his thinking.

On not giving up: 'Today is cruel. Tomorrow is crueler. And the day after tomorrow is beautiful.'

On past mistakes from 'the dark days at Alibaba': 'If you don't give up, you still have a chance. And, when you are small, you have to be very focused and rely on your brain, not your strength.'

On teamwork: 'If we are a good team and known what we want to do, one of us can defeat ten of them.'

On having a larger mission: 'It doesn't matter if I failed. At least I passed the concept on to others. Even if I don't succeed, someone will succeed.'

On perseverance: 'We will make it because we are young and we will never, never give up.'

Chairman and Chief Executive of Alibaba Group Jack Ma speaks at a news conference in Beijing, in this file picture taken January 19, 2011.


On work: 'If we go to work at 8 a.m. and go home at 5 p.m., this is not a high-tech company and Alibaba will never be successful. If we have that kind of 8-to-5 spirit, then we should just go and do something else.'

On competition: 'You should learn from your competitor, but never copy. Copy and you die.'

Jack Ma


On Alibaba.com's 2007 IPO: 'Alibaba is not just a job. It's a dream. It's a cause. Let the Wall Street investors curse us if they want.'

On the benefits of his technological ineptitude: 'Intelligent people need a fool to lead them. When the team's all a bunch of scientists, it is best to have a peasant lead the way. His way of thinking is different. It's easier to win if you have people seeing things from different perspectives.'

On growth: 'In carrying out e-commerce, the most important thing is to keep doing what you are doing right now with passion, to keep it up.'

Now, for another type of creativity...

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