Joseph Tsai is the right-hand man of Alibaba founder Jack Ma. After navigating the company through its first substantial challenges (the U.S. authorities investigated Alibaba’s accounting practices last year, concerned about data from its blockbuster annual sale), Tsai is making more positive headlines of late. In September, the company’s stock reached a 100% increase over last year, as Tsai and Ma discussed selling up to 22.5 million (or US$4 billion worth) of the company’s shares. On the side, Tsai has been eyeing ownership of the Brooklyn Nets for US$2.2 billion.
In 1999, Tsai quit his $700,000-a-year job at the Swedish investment firm Investor AB to work for a small startup in Ma’s apartment for free. He graduated with a law degree from Yale and worked in private equity before meeting Ma. Tsai served as Alibaba’s chief financial officer for more than a decade and then became its vice-chairman in 2013. While Ma is Alibaba’s visionary, Tsai is the guy who stays up till 4:30 a.m. to turn those visions into reality. He was instrumental in getting early funding for the e-commerce juggernaut, and he negotiated several acquisitions in quick succession.
Updated Thursday, November 9, 2017