For many Chinese entrepreneurs, Ma is a hero. A former school teacher, Ma, 43, is the founder and CEO of the Alibaba Group, China’s premier e-commerce player. The company, headquartered in Ma’s hometown, the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, controls Yahoo China and Taobao, the country’s top consumer Web site. The flagship of the group is Alibaba.com, a business-to-business service that connects small and midsized importers and exporters in China with counterparts worldwide. Ma successfully guided Alibaba’s $1.5 billion Hong Kong initial private offering last November and is now using that cash pile to expand into new markets in Japan, India, and Korea.