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Coming to America, Jack Ma Style

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Alibaba Group may have the biggest Web site business you never heard of but that will soon change. A common investor adage is "there are no coincidences on Wall Street" and Alibaba may turn into a good example. I'll explain why in a moment, but let's examine the participants.

You may not know about Alibaba's Web site or unless you're involved in international commerce; however, Taobao is ranked in the top 10 sites on the web. Every day, legions more enter Taobao versus eBay (EBAY), Microsoft's Bing (MSFT), or Twitter.

Clearly, Alibaba is a leading player in the online world. So much so that gross merchandise sales through Alibaba's web portals are greater than eBay or Amazon (AMZN), and by some measurements, above and beyond eBay and Amazon combined.

Jack Ma, Alibaba's lead founder, unexpectedly announced in January that he was stepping down as CEO. In May, Jonathan Lu took the helm, and Ma currently serves as executive chairman. This is where the story becomes intriguing.

At 48 years old, Jack Ma's self-made reported net worth is over a $3 billion. Ma is obviously a get-it-done kind of leader in the prime of his life.

Ma had the perseverance to gain entry into the Hangzhou Teacher's Institute after failing the entrance exam at least two times. In 1995, Ma founded China Yellowpages, one of the first Chinese Internet-based companies, and in 1999 he founded Alibaba.

In 2005, Ma convinced Yahoo! (YHOO) to invest $1 billion into his company (I recently wrote why that investment is paying off for Yahoo!).

Today, Alibaba is the number one e-commerce site in China and the world based on total merchandise sold. Analysts' estimates for Alibaba start near $50 billion and move up -- not bad for a man who took more than one try to get into English school. Don't think for a moment that Ma is about to retire and fade into the sunset.

In February, Ma was reportedly spending time in Silicon Valley seeking potential partnerships. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Amazon's shareholders don't seem to have received the memo that Jack Ma is in town.
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