Twelve dollars a month is better than $25 billion a year, says Alibaba founder Jack Ma.
There was a time when even the wealthiest men in the world were average, ordinary civilians. According to Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, that time period was the best period of his life.
Ma spoke on Tuesday at a luncheon with the Economics Club of New York. He told those in attendance:
“If you have less than $1 million, you know how to spend the money. [At] $1 billion, that’s not your money.”
Ma reminisced about a time in his life when he had much, much less. He explained that he was very aware of how he spent his money back then. After he became a billionaire, however, he was not as concerned with how he spent his money as much as he was concerned with the responsibility of having so much money in the first place.
When Ma graduated in 1988, he became an English teacher at a local university in his hometown Hangzhou, China. In “Crocodile in the Yangtze,” a documentary covering the earlier parts of his life, Ma is revealed to have survived on a total of $12-a-month salary during that time.
Ma is currently the second richest man in China and has an estimated net worth of $25.4 billion. While it would seem clear to many that Ma is better off now than when he made only $144 for a year’s work, he disagrees. He said on Tuesday:
“The money I have today is a responsibility. It’s the trust of people on me.”
It is obvious that Ma is deeply troubled by the pressure of his wealth. Rather than looking optimistically at the possibilities afforded to him by his wealth, Ma feels the need to spend his money “on behalf of the society.”
This isn’t the first time Ma has expressed displeasure about his multibillionaire status. Late last year, Ma told CNBC:
“People say, ‘Well Jack, please, rich people’s good.’ Yeah, it is good, but not that — richest man of the world — of China. It’s a great pain, because when you are the richest person in the world, everyone is surrounding you for money.”
Maybe having billions isn’t all it’s cut out to be?