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Jack Ma

Jack Ma

When the former English teacher and translation company owner searched for beer on the Internet in 1995, the results didn’t turn up any Chinese brews — or much about China at all. That’s when Ma, 50, founded Internet company, China Pages. Although it failed, he was undeterred and went on to create online marketplace Alibaba, which broke global records with its US$25-billion IPO in 2014. An active philanthropist, he sits on the board of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, which recognises researchers who have made discoveries that extend human life.