Sometimes there are small events that make you look at things differently – this short conversation has added a new dimension to how I look at the internet. I’d heard of Jack Ma and knew that he had a big internet presence in China but this was the first time I had any real exposure to him.This talk gives you an insight into why the biggest US internet companies (Google, Yahoo, Ebay) have failed when they tried to crack the Chinese market. Ma comes across as a quietly spoken but highly determined and straight-talking businessman who approaches these companies from a different perspective to the rest of us in the West. His company, Alibaba, dominates in China, offering a business to business marketplace and services that rival PayPal and Ebay. It is said that Ebay’s purchase of Skype was directly inspired by what Ma’s company was doing. His opinions on Yahoo! are particularly forthright given that Yahoo! invested $1bn in his company, giving it a 40% share (Ma still seems to have come out on top, un-fazed by the scale of the deal.) . His views on his company’s relations with the Chinese government and accusations of censorship are frank and highlight cultural differences between China and the West. His sights are now firmly set on internet search (the reason for the Yahoo! deal) and global expansion – and he finishes with a very telling statement.
If you’re not intrigued by now, you really should be. If you don’t take this man into account when thinking about the fight for dominance of the internet space then you are missing part of the overall picture.
- The Web 2.0 Conversation (audio, video and transcript)
- Jack Ma – Number 20 in PC World’s 50 Most Important People on the Web
- Jack Ma – Wikipedia entry