Jack Ma is the man of the hour.

Friday's massive Alibaba initial public offering caps the career of the company's cofounder, a former English teacher who started the e-commerce giant out of his apartment back in 1999. And when he arrived at the New York Stock Exchange in the morning, huge crowds craned their necks to catch a glimpse of the charismatic entrepreneur.

To those who work for him, Ma has always been an inspirational boss, relentless with ideas and energy. “He is, to employees, a spiritual leader,” Anthea Yan Zhang, professor at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University in Houston, told IBTimes's Michael Learmonth. Ma, who can be charming and playful in private, is known for giving rousing speeches to his employees. Part motivational speaker, he often encourages employees to take risks, once telling them: "I will forgive you if you make mistakes, but I will never forgive you if you don’t do anything.

Here are some of Ma's more inspirational speeches:

In 1999, Ma got his wife and 17 friends to pool $60,000 to start Alibaba. Though the dial-up Internet connection was so bad that it too more than three hours to load a page, Ma gave a spirited pep talk to them in the living room of his apartment, encouraging them to think big and to help turn the company into a competitor to the giants of Silicon Valley."

"All of our brains are just as good as theirs," he said. "We can beat government agencies and big famous companies because of our innovative spirit."

Here is Ma, at his most flamboyant in a white wig and elaborate costume, singing the "Lion King" theme song to a massive rally of employees gathered in Hangzhou, China in September 2009.

When Ma delivered the keynote speech at the 2009 APEC Small and Medium-Size Enterprises summit in Singapore, he shared his experiences as an entrepreneur, explaining why he thinks "small is beautiful." "Every big company comes from a small business. ... Why do I always feel excited? Because I have eight babies. In the past 15 years, I've built up eight companies. ... If you want to be happy, have more babies. ... We believe we are tomorrow's Google, tomorrow's UPS."

Ma made his last public speech before stepping down as Alibaba CEO at Stanford University on May 4, 2013. He discussed why embracing change is crucial for global leaders handling the changes wrought by technology.

In November last year, Ma gave the commencement address at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Among his lessons to the students: be persistent, never give up and always be optimistic. "If you want to be respected, you have to suffer a lot," he warned the students. "When other people complain, that is your opportunity."

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