Author: Alibaba's Jack Ma embodies 'American Dream'

Inside Jack Ma's rags to riches story
Inside Jack Ma's rags to riches story

The success of Alibaba in China and beyond is like the "American Dream," said Duncan Clark, a former advisor to Alibaba in its early years and the author of the new book "Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built."

Ma, the founder of Alibaba who started out as an English teacher, build the Chinese firm into a worldwide internet retailing powerhouse in about 15 years. Alibaba's $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange was the biggest IPO ever.

"To some extent, [Jack Ma] is a vessel we pour our hopes into for how we would like China to be. Because [Alibaba] is kind of the 'American Dream,'" Clark told "Squawk Box" on CNBC. "Alibaba is kind of the 'Kleenex' of commerce."

Alibaba grew out of the "pretty bad" brick and mortar retail experience in China, said Clark, currently chairman of the Beijing consultancy BDA China. He was formerly a tech investment banker with Morgan Stanley in London and Hong Kong.