July 16, 2015

"Chen also revealed that the former teacher [Jack Ma] always keeps several books in his briefcase, including the Tao Te Ching, the classic text of the Daoist philosopher Laozi."

Want China Times Alibaba co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma is a lover of magic and philosophy who has an impressive salt collection, says his personal assistant Chen Wei.

'In Ma's only authorized biography, Chen reveals a different side to his boss, the 50-year-old former English teacher who became China's second richest man with a net worth of US$24.5 billion, as estimated by Forbes, when Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant Alibaba made its historic listing on the New York Stock Exchange last September.

'According to Chen, Ma, who has called himself an "alien" in the past, has a diverse range of interests including magic. He is especially a fan of Taiwanese magician Lu "Louis" Chen, so much so that when people try to tell him how they think Lu does his tricks, Ma always stops them, saying that he prefers to believe that the magic is real.

'Unlike many other billionaires, Ma doesn't collect luxury cars, watches or pens. Instead, the Hangzhou Normal University graduate likes to collect salt from all across the world. It's not just for show either, as Chen added that Ma would sometimes break out an exotic salt to add to his meals at home.'

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