Asia's visionary, cult icon and risk taker. We take a look at high-profile Jack Ma, founder of China's largest e-commerce company, Alibaba.com.
HONG KONG, CHINA, - He's worth about one and a half billion dollars, rubs shoulders with the rich and famous, and sometimes likes to wear a wig. But just who is Jack Ma?
The founder and CEO of China's online shopping giant, Alibaba Group, He's been compared to Apple's Steve Jobs, as Asia's visionary and entrepreneurial genius.
The former tour guide and English teacher built Alibaba from scratch.
The group is now worth over 30 billion dollars and its flagship unit Alibaba.com is China's largest e-commerce company.
He's gained a cult-like status at home, says Nomura's Jin Yoon.
NOMURA REGIONAL HEAD OF INTERNET RESEARCH ASIA EX-JAPAN, JIN YOON, SAYING:
"Over the years we certainly have seen this godlike figure in China going from an average Joe to the godlike figure and billionaire that he is."
Ma has championed the role of small businesses in the battle against industry giants, saying Alibaba exists to serve 'shrimp' rather than 'whales.'
His e-trading company Taobao fended off eBay in China by offering free listings for sellers.
Now, he's fighting to buy back his stake in Alibaba from Yahoo, after the U.S. company bought a 40 percent share in 2005.
These high-profile challenges have proven Ma a fierce competitor.
But his public profile took a hit last year when he was accused of taking control of an Alibaba unit, Alipay, without properly informing Yahoo or other investors.
The issue raised questions about Ma's business style.
But some say its Ma's pluck and tolerance for risk that will ensure his continued success in the rough and tumble Web world.
Tessa Dunlop, Reuters.