Helen Wang

Author Helen Wang attended the much-debated speech of Alibaba’s Jack Ma at Stanford, where he discussed – among others – the purchase of Yahoo. Helen Wang explains in Forbes why he said he would be interested, but will in fact never buy Yahoo.

Helen Wang:

People who speculate that Ma’s aim is to acquire Yahoo! may have missed the point. Jack Ma is unlikely to be a qualified suitor. He hasn’t proved that he can turn Yahoo! around in China. There is no reason to believe that he can turn Yahoo! around in the U. S.

Ma’s real intention may very well be to expand his Alibaba Group to the U. S. market. “I want to learn one thing here,” he said, “how we can help U.S. SMEs (small and medium enterprises). What value we can create between us, Amazon and eBay.”

That has always been Jack Ma’s ambition. Today, Alibaba already has 15 million users from outside China. Taobao has grown to over 300 million registered users and commands a 90 percent market share. Ma believes that Taobao will grow even faster in the future.

As Jack Ma knows very well, it won’t be easy to succeed in the U. S. market. “The best way to succeed in business is to learn from others’ mistakes,” Ma said. “Many people have written books about Alibaba’s success. But I really don’t think we are so smart. We have made many mistakes. One book I want to write someday is ‘Alibaba’s 1001 Mistakes.’”

More in Forbes


Helen Wang is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch.

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