Should I Read ‘Alibaba – The House that Jack Ma Built’ by Duncan Clark?

I just recently finished Alibaba – The House that Jack Ma Built book by Duncan Clark. Before reading it, I read mixed review about the book. I went ahead buying and reading it anyway. If you are  in the same position as I was, here is the stage of knowledge I was before reading it.

  1. A fan of Jack Ma. I started idolising him after seeing him on Facebook posts, Youtube clips, etc. He is definitely a people person I thought. He is able to grab people’s attention through his stories such as he is one of the 24 applied for jobs for the first KFC in China. 23 of them were hired and he was the only one not hired.
  2. Only know Alibaba as a B2B company. After reading the book, Alibaba is more than B2B company. AliPay, AliExpress, Tao Bao, etc. Some stories behind these brands that are covered in the book.
  3. Don’t read Chinese newspapers/articles. I would probably know more about Alibaba if my Mandarin skill is adequate enough to reach Chinese articles.
  4. Don’t know much about Chinese market, politic, and business restriction.You would appreciate the freedom that we have in the Western countries!

So, did I find the book useful and interesting? The answer is yes. Here is the top 5 lessons through reading this book:

  1. When running business, focus on Customer first, Employee second, Shareholder third. I admire Jack through a story how he fought hard when one of the majority shareholders, Masayoshi Son, did not like the idea of giving shares employees.Another story about his appreciation to the employees are to raise enough money so he can buy back shares from employees, he said it is time for employees to enjoy after the hard work they have done.
  2. Jack raises capital when the company does not need it. Once, Alibaba raised billions dollar, allocated few hundred millions to buy back employee shares, and keep the rest as as reserve.
  3. Today is difficult, tomorrow is much more difficult, the day after tomorrow is very beautiful, but most die tomorrow evening. I always hear this quote and this is quoted again in this book. You will see this throughout the book.
  4. Forget about your competitors, just focus on your customers. Chinese market is very competitive. Tao Bao is not the original business model of Alibaba. Yet it’s market share grows as Alibaba understand what business and customers want (eg. no listing for supplier and buying fee for consumer).
  5. Believe in yourself. Jack has vision and he believes in his vision and he spreads it very well to bring others to see his vision.

Audio Book can be purchased here: Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built

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