Jack Ma – the billionaire who flew too close to the sun

Jack Ma – the billionaire who flew too close to the sun

On November 11, 2020, the Chinese e-commerce giant strikes Alibaba’s annual shopping holiday Singles Day a dizzying sales record.

Company founder Jack Ma has become synonymous with success in China. He is a world celebrity who thrives in the limelight, accustomed to shaking hands with presidents and swarming with Hollywood stars.

But when Alibaba’s customers buy goods for well over 56 billion dollars that November day in 2020, Jack Ma mysteriously disappeared. Soon speculation begins as to what has actually happened to the Chinese billionaire.

IN P3 ID about Jack Ma, the story of his rise and fall is depicted. Having grown up in poverty in a China torn apart by the Cultural Revolution, he suddenly becomes the unlikely face of a new revolution in the country – the IT revolution of the late 90s.

Hear the story of how a scrappy guy from the city of Hangzhou, who was turned down for every job he applied for in his youth, discovered the Internet and then took on the American giants Ebay and Amazon – and won.

Jack Ma himself has said that the fictional film character Forrest Gump is his idol, and his own life story is said to have several similarities with Tom Hanks’ beloved performance.

Because like Gump, Ma is constantly underestimated by those around him – until he accidentally makes friends with the wrong people in the Chinese power sphere.

Participating in the episode are Kristina Sandklef, independent China analyst, Johan Lagerkvist, professor of Chinese language and culture at Stockholm University, and Duncan Clark, internet consultant and friend of Jack Ma.

The episode was made by Studio Olga in the winter of 2023.

Program manager: Carl-Johan Ulvenäs

Episode writer and reporter: Patrick Stanelius

Producer: Carl-Johan Ulvenäs

Sound mix: Fredrik Nilsson

The audio clips in the episode are taken from: Sveriges Radio, ABC, NBC, Bloomberg, Youtube and the documentary film “Crocodile in the Yangtze – The Alibaba story”.

The book “Alibaba: The house that Jack Ma built”, by Duncan Clark, has also been helpful while working on this episode.


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