HONG KONG • The mammoth IPO planned by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group highlights founder Jack Ma’s improbable rise to China’s entrepreneur-in-chief.
Ma, a former English teacher who flunked his college entrance exam twice, founded Alibaba in his apartment in 1999 with 17 friends and $60,000 they had raised. Charismatic by the gray standards of Chinese CEOs, the impish Ma has cult status in China, where he’s seen as the equivalent of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.
In a country where state-...
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