HONG KONG • Jack Ma, who launched China's largest e-commerce company two decades ago and rode it to a US$47.6 billion (S$64.7 billion) fortune, have created billions of dollars of wealth for at least 10 others - a total of almost US$100 billion.
By investing directly in or partnering with firms that provide services for his online platforms - from payment systems to delivery companies - Mr Ma and Alibaba Group Holding have minted a network of people whose combined fortunes total over US$52 billion, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows. With Mr Ma's wealth included, their net worth is larger than 136 economies.
"Jack is a long-term visionary," said Duncan Clark, author of the book Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, and an early adviser to the firm. The network feeding Alibaba at the centre is something he "envisioned and planned from a long time ago".
The fortunes have emerged from Alibaba's supporting industries - e-payments and insurance, delivery companies and retailers like supermarkets. At least two billionaires have emerged this year from the fintech world supporting Alibaba. One is Mr Ou Yafei, of ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance, which offers customers shipping return insurance through a click of a button for purchases on Alibaba's Taobao online mall.
The company, which counts Alibaba's online payments business, Ant Financial, as its largest shareholder, had an initial public offering in Hong Kong in September. Min Luo from Qudian, which provides credit loans to online shoppers in partnership with Ant Financial, had an IPO in the US in October.
Parcel delivery has also created six billionaires. Mr Wang Wei, who started China's largest parcel delivery company by revenue, SF Express, added more than US$15.4 billion to his net worth this year after his SF Holdings became publicly traded on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The company has primarily made its money shipping Alibaba's goods, as have the delivery companies of ZTO Express Cayman, STO Express, Yunda Holding - and YTO Express Group, which has an 11 per cent ownership stake from Alibaba. They also cooperate in a logistics network called Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, which is majority owned by Alibaba.
Alibaba co-founder and vice-chairman Joseph Tsai is the second-richest person to come from the Hangzhou-based company, with a net worth of US$11.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg index.