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Notes on tech

Notes on technology, business, enterpreneurship, economy, markets along with interesting general tidbits.

Interview with Jack Ma - Alibaba.com

5/08/2006 03:20:00 PM, posted by anand

SFGate has an interesting interview with Jack Ma - the founder of Alibaba.com. Alibaba is the largest business to business trading/commerce site in China. He candidly answers questions on how he learnt English, how he started Alibaba, Chinese censorship and the internet spread and usage in China.

Here are some highlights that I'd like to share with you:

Q: Over here, it probably took five years or so for a lot of people to feel comfortable buying products on the Internet. How many people in China feel comfortable shopping on the Internet?

A: We have 19 million registered users on Taobao, and every day we have more than 50,000 new users.

Q: Nineteen million isn't that many people in China.

A: That's why you have to have patience if you do anything in China. You have 1.3 billion people. You have 110 million registered Internet users.

So when my friends say, "Jack, I don't want to buy things online," I say, "You're not my customer. My customer is the guy who's 20 years old, 25 years old." I wait for them for four or five years. Today's young people are the future customers. We grow together with them. That's why I don't squeeze money out of the Taobao sites today.

Q: Do you plan to take your company public?

A: I would rather build up our company strong and then go public. I want China to create a company that can create value for a long time like a GE, IBM or Microsoft. Now everyone gets an IPO, cashes out and leaves and then the company fails. We think that Alibaba is a company that can improve people's jobs. We've created a lot of jobs with Taobao. This is something to last for centuries. We're not in a hurry.

Q: It's interesting that you say one of your priorities is to make China better. We get the impression talking to a lot of American companies that taking care of Americans is not necessarily a priority for them.

A: Improving China is what I can do today. If Alibaba goes bankrupt, 400,000 companies in China will go bankrupt. They rely on Alibaba.

Q: What surprises you most about America?

A: Five years ago, what really surprised me -- the passion, the innovation. Today I see that in China.
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