NOTE: I'm not posting verbatim. It's in the first person because it's easier for me to write that way ;)
Speaker: Jack Ma (Yahoo!/Alibaba) Positions: CEO Yahoo! China, CEO/Founder of Alibaba Moderator: Chris Sherman
Tell us about Yahoo! China. Yahoo! has been in China for 8 years but we still needed to stabilize the management team and we did that. We’re positioning Yahoo! China/Alibaba to help businesses go online (everyone’s clapping! Jack Ma’s obviously a celebrity in China). When we took over, development of SE technology should be fast. I didn’t change a lot. Yahoo.com.cn acquisition. SE is a tool. It should serve Alibaba users. In ecommerce we lack SE. We took over Yahoo! believing that. Do we develop portal? Or do we develop SE? SE is a very important support to e-commerce. Well we still have 95 years to do it, if we can’t do it this year or next year.
What have you done with Yahoo’s investment. There’s a lot of gossip. The truth is $750 million out of the $1 billion given to Alibaba was either spent or reinvested. We want to increase spending in R&D and continue developing more products for vertical markets, markets like the proxy server market which we estimate to be worth RMB 10 billion.
Is competition good? We were once compared with eBay: eBay is a shark in Pacific Ocean and Alibaba is a crocodile in the Yangtze River. Competition is not the same as a battle. In battles, one has to die, only must survive. That is not competition. If they want to compete with us, I don’t have a problem. I’m not afraid of anyone (thunderous clapping here). In 3-5 years, we will change the rules of the game. We don’t need to follow Google or Baidu’s rules. We will make our own rules.
What unique products will you offer? We’ll roll out products that are really geared for the Chinese market. Search engine technology today is geared for US markets and supports US culture. I would be better to have a customized solution for the 120 million Chinese netizens.
In 5 years, you said you’ll be strong enough to challenge Microsoft. Microsoft, Google, Baidu are all big companies. But any company that’s been in business for 6 years (Alibaba) should be respected. Microsoft is a well known company and I respect them. I respect eBay the most. But unlike the others, Alibaba is a young kid that can still afford to grow. We’re everywhere. We’ve got 120 million small-medium enterprises (SMEs) using our service. What’s to prevent us from offering desktop software to them? If Microsoft can offer software to them, so can we. We’re all good friends. I will learn a lot from them. But they will also learn from us.
What’s in store for us from Yahoo! Alibaba. In 3 years, e-commerce development will still be at the center of our strategy. We shouldn’t be following fads. I will not follow Google or Baidu. I will stick to what I’m doing. No fads. Online gaming? No way, won’t let my son play it.