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The Many Faces of Jack Ma

To call Alibaba's founder eccentric would be an understatement.

Alibaba's founder Jack Ma has the oratory skills of Steve Jobs and the stage presence of Richard Simmons.

Fifteen-years ago, the Chinese Internet pioneer founded the ecommerce juggernaut that's expected to this summer launch an initial public offering that could rival Facebook's 2012 $16 billion IPO. And though he stepped down as the day-to-day leader of the company last year, he's still the company's top inspirer-in-chief. And he's a real character.

From giving his blessing to hundreds of couples at a group wedding to donning a Mohawk wig and performing at a company celebration, the selfie-snapping Ma--who calls himself the company's "spiritual leader"--is anything but what you'd expect.

Not only has Ma likened himself to Steven Spielberg's beloved extraterrestrial ET, he once dressed up as the Terminator on stage with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The result? He's built a devoted fan base among employees and customers alike.

Here's a brief look at the many faces of the eccentric billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma:

1
Introspective
Introspective
(January 2006) A pensive Ma at an awards ceremony in Hangzhou, east of China's Zhejiang province. PHOTO: Newscom
2
Playful
Playful
(September 2009) LA Laker Kobe Bryant towers over Ma at a summit in Hangzhou city, east China’s Zhejiang province. PHOTO: Getty Images
3
Unpredictable
Unpredictable
(September 2009) Ma performs at a party to celebrate his firm's 10th anniversary, in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province. PHOTO: Getty Images

4
Approachable
Approachable
(September 2010) Ma on stage as the Terminator with the Arnold Schwarzenegger at Alibaba's annual Alifest conference. PHOTO: Getty Images
5
Confident
Confident
(May 2013) Dressing as a pop star and singing at an event to mark the 10th anniversary of China's most popular online shopping destination Taobao Marketplace, in Hangzhou. PHOTO: Getty Images

6
Thoughtful
Thoughtful
(May 2013) Ma speaking during a group wedding ceremony with 688 newlywed couples participating at Alibaba Headquarters in Hangzhou, China. Among the couples, either a husband or wife works for Alibaba and about 81 couples are both employees of Alibaba. PHOTO: Getty Images

7
Candid
Candid
(December 2013) Ma (on left) taking a selfie with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, on a visit to China PHOTO: Twitter
8
Unorthodox
Unorthodox
(January 2013) Hong Kong-based comedian and director Stephen Chow (on right) and Ma (left) practiced Tai Chi at the Communication University of China in Beijing. PHOTO: AP
9
Resourceful
Resourceful
(November 2013) Ma (on left) received an honorary doctorate in business administration at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. PHOTO: Corbis
10
Grateful
Grateful
(April 2014) Dressed in a costume of China's Zhuang ethnic minority, Ma greeted guests next to Zhu Xinli, founder of Huiyuan Group, at an entrepreneur fashion show during the 2014 Annual Summit of China Green Companies. A hundred companies, including Alibaba, IBM and Wanda group, were honored as green companies. PHOTO: AP
IMAGE: Getty Images (3), Corbis
Last updated: May 8, 2014

DIANA RANSOM | Articles Editor

Diana Ransom is Inc.'s online articles editor. She has been covering the never-dull world of small business and entrepreneurship for years, at a variety of publications, including The Wall Street Journal, SmartMoney.com, the New York Daily News, Fast Company, and Entrepreneur. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.




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