Alibaba, Jack Ma, and Me

The story of Alibaba as told by Jack Ma is amazing!

It was in Seattle where Ma said his friend encouraged him to try searching the Internet for the first time. Initially, he hesitated since he knew that computers were expensive, and if he broke it, he wouldn’t be able to afford to replace it.

“He said ‘just search it,’ so I searched the first word ‘beer,” he said. “I don’t know why, but maybe because it was easy to spell? I see beers from Germany, U.S.A. and Japan, but I don’t see any from China, so I searched for the second word ‘China,’ and there was nothing.”

So, he recalls that they made a small, “ugly-looking” page, and three hours after launching it, “I got a phone call from my friend who said, “Jack, you have five emails, and I said ‘What is email?”

Based on the number of responses, he said, “This is something interesting, so we should do it.”

Starting from this “ugly-looking” page, the business grew into Alibaba where Jack Ma recently hosted the largest IPO ever at $25 billion.

Why didn’t I start it?

I think there is one big reason … I don’t REALLY know how to notice what’s not there!

When I type some words into a search engine and get no results, I type different words until I get results.  And then I settle for whatever I eventually find.

Jack Ma had no preconceptions of what was normal or possible, or even what he was doing. He typed some words into the search engine, got no results, noticed a gap, and then he and his friend built something to fill it.  Even if it was ugly.

He created a site to give him (and others like him) the results he wanted … not the ones he had to settle for.

I can learn a lot from that approach.

So can you.