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Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  8,978 ratings  ·  726 reviews
An engrossing, insider’s account of how a teacher built one of the world’s most valuable companies—rivaling Walmart & Amazon—and forever reshaped the global economy.

In just a decade and half Jack Ma, a man from modest beginnings who started out as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into one of the world’s largest companies, an e-commerce empire on which hundreds
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 12th 2016 by Ecco
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susmita Its a good book, have started reading it. Worth the buy and to jot down how to go about building a product and having the product vision.

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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Apr 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Lots of interesting materials but just a poorly written and structured book. Needs serious editing and clean up.
Maciej Nowicki
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The impact of Alibaba is not fully appreciated outside China as much as it is within China. Outside China, people may have known the big IPO of Alibaba ($25 billion in 2014) and perhaps some odd founder but I don’t think they understand how much the Internet has changed people’s lives and, particularly, companies such as Alibaba boosted that process. Without the internet, it’s hard to imagine how China would have evolved over the last few decades and how the private sector would have driven the ...more
Michael Payne
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Never underestimate Jack Ma. Those 4 words are the repeated storyline of this book. While this "school teacher" may come across as humble and common, his fondness for Forest Gump is foretelling. For those who liked The Everything Store story of Amazon, this book is the best English account of the unlikely tale of Alibaba and a Gump-like character known to the world as Jack Ma. Read this book and you will find that China has quite a few insights to teach the west about online shopping. Far more C ...more
Harish Challapalli
Alibaba- The house that Jack Ma built.

Alibaba- The bio that Duncan Clark spoilt.

Thanks to Duncan Clark for making jack ma’s bio so boring.. the writing was very poor.. I have seen some talks of jack ma, those were very inspiring.. I wanted to learn more about him and very interestingly started this book. My interest was spoilt almost in the beginning itself.. the basic structure of the bio itself was not planned properly..a half baked narration..

I think some author like Walter Isaacson must do
Apr 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a company biography of the Alibaba group in China. In parallel, it is an official biography of Jack Ma, the Chinese entrepreneur and former English instructor who is behind the growth of Alibaba. The book is written by a former Morgan Stanley analyst who got to know Jack Ma during the time when he advised Alibaba. The book is largely descriptive and follows the firm from its inception up through its recent IPO. There is even a concluding section updating the group since the IPO. The over ...more
Arun Divakar
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Today is brutal, tomorrow is more brutal, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful. However, the majority of people will die tomorrow night .”

Jack Ma’s quote finds resonance with any team/organization striving towards a lofty goal. There are days in your professional life when you are on the verge of throwing it all away and walking off and a lot many of us do just that. But still a few still persevere and this hard work eventually finds it’s worthy rewards. Alibaba’s rise to prominence in China
Francisca Painhas
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good book that also gives quite an introduction to the Chinese business and entrepreneurial reality as well as challenges.
Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built is a biography of Jack Ma, founder of the "Amazon of the East" Alibaba. The book is written by a former Morgan Stanley employee, Duncan Clark, who has had a close relationship with the company since its inception in the late 1990's. Alibaba is a decent biography, chronicling the rise of Alibaba and the "Jack Magic" its multilingual and entrepreneurial founder brought to the table. Jack is an interesting character, as he has lead his company through the incep ...more
Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
After reading Porter Erisman's "Alibaba's World" recently, this book by Duncan Clark is a useful continuation of the Alibaba story for me. Not continuation in the literal sense (since it also covers the period from startup to the second IPO) but rather it adds layers of information which I found useful.

While Erisman actually worked at Alibaba, Duncan Clark on the other hand only consulted for it. As such, I found Erisman's book much more anecdotal (based on his personal experiences), whilst Clar
Mala Ashok
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
A full account of Jack Ma's rise to the internet mogul that ALibaba has made him.
The book was well-written but lacked humpor. I found it tough reading.
A Man Called Ove
2.5/5 A decent book on the story of Jack Ma and Alibaba. Wish it had been better edited - too much namesdropping and irrelevant info of those ppl.
Secondly, this story is more of the story of conflicts with one organisation after another. What about the inside view, not in the gossip sense but in a positive sense ?
On the plus side, the book was a good introduction to how China works. The extreme regulation on political dissent and censorship reminds of Islamic theocracies. Also, as the author men
Prateek Gupta
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The first 100 pages feels like a stint from Ocean Eleven. Jack Ma built an industry where internet penetration was non existent. With government watching every step you take, Alibaba transformed how small businesses function in an isolated country. With fierce competition from local players and eBay on the horizon, Jack Ma was able to defend the bastion and led the company to a record breaking IPO.
The last 50 pages are average and hence I had to bring down one star.
I would highly recommend this
Tom Zacharski
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting perspective on the whole Chinese Internet market, not just Alibaba. I learned quite a bit about American companies’ struggles in China, the history of e-commerce battles between Alibaba and eBay, and also how Yahoo’s history was in many ways a story of a successful investment in Alibaba followed by massive mismanagement by the CEO. Add to that the colorful personality of Jack Ma and the involvement of Softbank (its CEO, Masayoshi San has a very different philosophy to Jack) an ...more
Subhodip Panda
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Alibaba is not a story it is a strategy" the ending lines reverberate the current path the businesses are going on. The investor capital forges the power to launch the cannon which goes through the air of offers and discounts to drive out the competitor from the market. The current economic scenario of loss making businesses to become profitable is the distant future. The free and discounts distorts the market in a way that competition is bound to be destroyed.This is the strategy that Alibaba ...more
Mikko Ikola
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great story about the history of internet and ecommerce in China, and how Jack Ma succeeded to be the father-like winner in the competition.

The book tells interesting story of Jack’s early entrepreneurship ventures (China Pages) that didn’t succeed and what he learned from there. Having visited Hangzhou personally it was captivating to read the encounters happened to Jack near West Lake

The book also covers chronological development of China’s dot-com-boom ventures in early 2000. As a westerner y
Shoaib Malik
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very detailed account of China’s dotcom era and the rise and fall of the many. I liked the super-fast pace of the book, which is probably because there was so much to cover in such a short period of time. One of the few books I couldn’t let go till I had read it cover to cover.

It’s a must read for anyone who wants to understand how China’s dotcom became the global engine that it is today and what to expect if Alibaba comes to your country.
In my own context, it was a very interesting read, gi
Anurag Ram Chandran
Jan 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
In Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, Duncan Clark has an eclectic collection of what could have been interesting stories IF written and structured well. Unfortunately for the reader, this book disappoints. Clark never really builds a narrative, and despite what seems like an earnest effort, is unable to give us the much-needed depth into who Jack Ma is. In my opinion, the book is a very mediocre initial foray into the charismatic entrepreneur and his baby, Alibaba. I would recommend holding ...more
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
More like 3.5 stars. I’m a big fan of Jack Ma and Alibaba, but this biography just didn’t do a great job of introducing the reader to him. It was adequate, but focused on a lot of pointless details in some places, and short on facts and analysis on other places. It is especially hard to see how replicable what he did really is. The book felt sometimes fawning to a degree which really calls into question overall objectivity, too.
Pooja Upadhyay
Oct 18, 2018 rated it did not like it
Damn, why would a writer make such a nice read as if writing clutter down the wall on street. I never understood the point of having those notes at the end of book. I mean when someone is trying to speed read at 350 wpm, I would flip pages back to end of book 37 times, for a chapter of with pages not even 36. The rise of Alibaba could have been a joyful story but unfortunately writer just forgot how to write. Never reading any books by Duncan Clark again.
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This actually ended up being a really great book outlining the state of Internet companies ecosystem in China: not only about Alibaba but also about Tencent, Baidu, Sina, etc and how Alibaba is positioned in this ecosystem. More informational than I thought
Manik Patil
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: MBA students, financial analysts
Who should read it?

This is a good book for those, who are unaware of Alibaba's humble beginnings and/or trying to get a handle on Asian STATs. For the uninitiated, alike the FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google/AlphaBet) in the US, or nowadays MAGA (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon), there is a similar acronym - STAT, which stands for Samsung, Tencent, Alibaba, and Taiwan Semiconductor. Alibaba plays a dominant role in one of the biggest markets as an online retailer.

Certainly a must-read
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book is a 30,000-foot view of Jack Ma and also give us a brief survey of the Chinese internet economy in the last 20 years—the birth, boom, bust and rebirth. The author attributed Alibaba’s success mostly to Jack ma himself--his eccentricity, vision, local expertise, people skill, political wisdom, among others. As in the case of almost all successful businesses luck played a role here, from where Ma calls home, his timing of launching Taobao, the failure of potential competitors ...more
Vivek Pradhan
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book is all about Jack Ma and his journey to unleash the magic of Alibaba. It is about how a curious English teacher went on to establish one of the world's biggest company. Coming from Duncan Clark, who had personally met him makes the accounts even more authentic.

Moreover, one thing that amazed me was the big dream Jack Ma believed, pursued and achieved in-spite all odds. The odds being his education, the big market players and China's entrepreneurial mindset. The other thing, he is in top
Brad B
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This would have been a far more interesting book if written by an experienced journalist; for me, most of Alibaba read as a long promotional piece for Jack Ma and the businesses he founded. There is some interesting content (I found the adventures of eBay and Yahoo! in China to be especially interesting) and some good insight into Chinese business culture. But a more well-rounded look at Jack Ma and his businesses would have been far more insightful. The author sometimes seems too much a fan of ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book covers both Alibaba story and its founder (as it's impossible to tell one from the other). The book shows Jack Ma a resilient, charismatic, and fair person with great leadership skills which were key ingredients to built Alibaba.
Alibaba, as company, grew up to a triangle of business, logistics, and payment as the three arms to support business - out of necessity of ensuring great customer service. Together as Richard Branson, and others, Jack advocates customer service first - which und
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
[Listened to the audiobook]: the author's style of glossing over details and dramatizing Jack Ma's personality made it hard for me to feel like I got much out of this book other than an appreciation for showmanship. I wished there were more stories about Jack's struggles, and how he approached success, as opposed to his public-facing comments (platitudes along the lines of, "we'll beat them easily, they don't know what they're doing, we're truly customer first!, etc.") Still OK for listening on ...more
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
1. It is mostly unfavourable for foreign companies like eBay and Yahoo to enter into the China market, mainly due to government hindrance, information censorship and approaches to localised their products or websites.
2. There are several equivalently important factors contributing to Alibaba's success: timing, leadership, the ability to seize opportunities, business connections and government policy.
3. The difficulties to explore other business opportunities when Alibaba is at its peak in rece
Anh Dang
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book about Chinese economics, dotcom boom, and start-up. Jack Ma is still a very exceptional individual. He is strong by keeping in touch deeply with his identities of Chinese, applying Eastern Philosophies into business.
Many people say Jack Ma is luck, but he is more than that. His biggest talent is catching the opportunity, being the right person, at right time, on the right track, and understand his country and people very well.
Fab Mackojc
Aug 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Alibaba is an incredible business and Jack Ma is an incredible entrepreneur but this wasn’t the best business biography I’ve ever read. Most chapters were more like a list of facts rather than a story. Having said that I did learn a lot about the scale of China’s market and how much of a big business Alibaba is. I don’t think most people realize the sheer magnitude of China’s population and economy.
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
The book is interesting in parts. First two - three chapters are very interesting and crisply written. But then the book starts to ebb in between chapters. The book isn't structured very well and the writing style (literature) isn't very impressive. And that is probably the biggest drawback of this otherwise well researched book. There are long and awkward sentence formations and quite a few grammatical errors. It is also difficult to understand the need for end references; thereby forcing the r ...more
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