In Depth: The Alibaba IPO

Why Jack Ma likes Forrest Gump

Why Jack Ma loves Forrest Gump
Why Jack Ma loves Forrest Gump

Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma's hero is a fictional character, with a background not much different from his own.

The Alibaba dream began in the U.S. about 15 years ago when he visited Silicon Valley, and watched the movie "Forrest Gump," Ma told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Friday as his company was expected to begin trading.

Jack Ma of Alibaba Group and Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump
Getty Images; Paramount Pictures

"I've been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time when I'm frustrated I watch the movie," Ma said. "I watched the movie before I came to New York."

Like the successful businessman and war hero character Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks in the 1994 film, Ma didn't perform well in school but became a legendary entrepreneur—with claims to the same simple heart as Gump.

Ma said the movie tells him, "no matter whatever changed, you are you, and I'm still the guy who, 15 years ago, only earned $20 a month."

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Later in the afternoon after Alibaba had begun trading, a "Forrest Gump" producer, Steve Tisch, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" that he was very interested if Ma wanted to finance a sequel to the Oscar-winning film.

"While [Ma] considers Forrest a personal hero," Tisch said, "I believe he himself will be the inspiration to many young people around the world for years to come."