Alibaba is arguably one of the ten most important firms in the world today, but before reading this book I knew very little about its founder, Jack Ma. Unlike most founders of large technology companies, he did not have a technical background (like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs) or a world-class education (like Jeff Bezos). Instead, Ma graduated from a poorly-ranked Chinese University and began his career as a teacher and then a translator. On a trip to the U.S. in the early 1990’s he encountered the Internet for the first time and decided to become an entrepreneur.

In addition to its role as a biograpy, the book also describes Alibaba’s “iron triangle” strategy: interlocking competencies in e-commerce, logistics, and finance. Clark also provides a helpful overview of China’s technology landscape, describing the competition (and at times, cooperation) between Alipay and other firms such as Tencent and Baidu.

Thanks to Sid Gunda for recommending this book.