In 1999, Jack Ma persuaded an investor take a stake in the company he had founded a few months earlier. It took six minutes for Masayoshi Son, the founder and current CEO of SoftBank, to invest US$20 million in the company. It proved to be a golden moment for both Alibaba and SoftBank.

The subsidiary of Softbank, SoftBank Ventures Korea’s investors said that Son invested in the company for two main reasons. First, Son invested in Jack Ma, an outstanding businessman. He believed that the company would become the best e-commerce company in China. Second, he saw the big market in China. “If you had the chance to read the business plan of Alibaba in 1999, you might find out that the company did not intend to succeed in the way that they are actually focusing on these days.” Later, as e-commerce market grew exponentially, Alibaba grew with this wind in its sails.

Son’s investment paid off upon Alibaba’s IPO 14 years later, with SoftBank now the biggest stockholder with a 34.4% stake while Yahoo has 22.6% and Jack Ma has 8.9%. According to Bloomberg, following the offering, Son became the richest man in Japan with a personal fortune of US$16.6 billion, overtaking Tadashi Yanai, CEO of UNIQLO.

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at evayoo@technode.com