What I Learned From Jack Ma of Alibaba

Alibaba recently hosted an event in Detroit called Gateway 17 which invited 3,000 small and medium size businesses across apparel, consumer goods, hard goods and food. Speakers included Martha Stewart, Charlie Rose, Dan Gilbert and Alibaba's founder Jack Ma himself. Given Jack's commitment to President Trump to provide the US with 1 million jobs, the event was also heavily attended and covered by the media. 

The overarching theme of the event was to convince US small and medium size businesses of the size and need of the Chinese market as the middle class grows and China shifts from a manufacturing economy to a consuming economy. Jack Ma was featured in a Charlie Rose interview on stage on the evening of day 1 and provided day 2's keynote. This was my first time seeing Jack Ma live and a few themes stuck with me:

  1. China, China, China - Alibaba has tried to setup shop in the US, launched platforms like 11 Main in the US but recognizes these initiatives as mistakes. Jack realizes that using the US for product as opposed to selling product in the US is Alibaba's best route. Jack notes that the US drove the global economy for the last 30 years but China will likely drive the next 30. 
  2. Alibaba Is Like No Other - Jack believes Alibaba and Amazon aren't competitors. Alibaba empowers small businesses to sell on the internet. Amazon is ecommerce retailer. You can argue that point but Jack says, "Alibaba is not a company. Alibaba is an economy. By 2036, we hope to be the 5th largest economy in the world." With ambitions like that, Alibaba stands alone.
  3. Greater Purpose - Jack mentioned 100 days of flying in 2017. Is Jack running Alibaba day to day? No. Jack believes it is his civic duty to spread the word of Alibaba but even more so China. What helps China likely helps Alibaba. 

The scale of Alibaba and China is something the world has never seen. As economies like China and India become consumer economies, the opportunities for ANY market are endless. The internet makes each of those customer's accessible if done the right way.

Disclosure: At time of publishing, I was long Alibaba stock.