Alibaba CEO Jack Ma was in town yesterday for an event tied to the UN’s annual meetings, and stopped by Fortune’s offices. Among his comments:
–While only 5% of Alibaba’s business is outside China today, he expects that to be 40% in ten years.
–In 20 years, he believes the value of the merchandise handled by Alibaba will reach $1 trillion – double its levels today.
–He doesn’t see Amazon as a competitor, because Alibaba doesn’t actually buy the goods it sells, but rather provides a virtual platform and logistics and finance services for buyers and sellers. “Our job isn’t to be Amazon,” he says. “It is to allow every company to become an Amazon.”
–He believes his proposal for an “Electronic World Trade Platform” is the future of global trade agreements, because it is “driven by business not government.” (You can see Ma talk about the eWTP here.)
The Chinese ecommerce giant launched the biggest IPO ever on Wall Street two years ago. Shares surged 38% before tumbling through most of 2015 as growth prospects in China fell. But this year, shares have come back strong, and the company now vies with Tencent as Asia’s most valuable company by market capitalization.
Alibaba reports the Gross Merchandise Value of goods traded over its platform, rather than revenue – a distinction that keeps it from being listed on the Fortune Global 500, which ranks companies by revenue. It is being investigated by the SEC for accounting practices, but Ma said yesterday: “We should be transparent to everyone. We have given them all the information they asked for.”
Also in the office yesterday was Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure, who may have the distinction of being the first entrepreneur ever to be tapped to run a legacy company. The founder of Brightstar became CEO of Sprint in August 2014, and since then has worked to bring a startup mentality to the struggling 116-year old telecom. You can read Aaron Pressman’s report here.
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