Sukses Alibaba.com dan Nasionalisme Jack Ma
Alibaba.com, e-marketplace terbesar di Asia dan bahkan di dunia menjadi semakin besar namanya setelah hari Selasa yang lalu (6 Nov) listing di bursa HK. Harga sahamnya seperti dikutip dari Forbes.com meningkat 192% pada hari pertama trading, dan harganya langsung di atas Google dan Baidu.
With its shares trading at 311 times its 2007 earnings per share, Alibaba is even pricier than Google (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ), whose shares have recently sold at a price-to-earnings multiple of 58.8 (see: " Is Alibaba Worth More Than Google?"), and Baidu.com (nasdaq: BIDU - news - people ), China's largest search engine, whose shares of late are changing hands at 202.7 times its 2007 earnings on the Nasdaq. After the initial run-up in its shares, the market value of Alibaba stood at 161 times earnings based on its projections for 2008.
Actually saya tidak begitu mengerti tentang angka-angka saham. Yang jelas, Alibaba.com adalah perusahaan internet Asia pertama yang namanya mengglobal, bersaing dengan pemain-pemain besar dunia, seperti Google dan Yahoo yang kebanyakan dari Amerika. Hal ini adalah hal yang sangat membanggakan, dan bagi saya sangat inspiring, karena orang Asia bisa masuk dalam dunia yang didominasi USA.
Dalam berbagai kesempatan wawancara dengan Jack Ma, pria berusia 43 tahun yang menjadi founder dan CEO Alibaba.com, dia selalu mengatakan: "In five years among the top five Internet companies in the world one of them will be from China and I hope that we will be that one."
Sejak awal Jack Ma sudah mempunyai visi dan ambisi untuk memasuki pasar global. CNN menyebutnya "a small, unassuming man, who has achieved big things and has even larger ambitions."
Di bawah ini beberapa kutipan yang menarik tentang dirinya.
The 42-year-old has built up China's largest e-commerce company and, in 2005, attracted the tech giant Yahoo! to buy 40 percent of the privately-held business for a billion U.S. dollars. As part of that deal, Ma's Alibaba Group now owns Yahoo! China.
The venture Jack Ma launched out of his Hangzhou apartment in 1999 has expanded into 5 companies and now employees about 5,000 people.
Ma prides himself on being a self-made man. "I am 100 percent made in China. I taught myself English in China and I have never been educated outside of China."
CNN's Andrew Stevens first asked the Hangzhou native why, as a boy, he would cycle 45 minutes every day to one of the tourist hotels around West Lake to practice his
English with tourists.
Ma: "I find it interesting. I find that when I listen to these foreign tourists, what they talk about, and I learn from the schools are different. For example, 1985 my first trip to leave China to Australia. Before that I was told that China was the richest country in the world and we are the happiest people in the world. We are supposed to liberate the world. When I arrived in Australia, I said "Oh My God" things are different, right? They should liberate us. To know that the world is different from what you think and from what you learn. That is the thing that keeps me growing and growing.
Stevens: You are a student and a fan of the Chinese author Jin Yong. He writes wushu novels about ancient heroes. You have said you have taken lessons from his books and applied them to your business. How exactly?
Ma: The Jin Yong book tell me that whatever you want to be a great person or a great company you have to work very hard. And you have to suffer a lot of terrible things
before you can be a hero. It is quite spiritual. And think out of the box. You have to think out of the box to win.
Stevens: So what is your vision for Alibaba? Is it global domination?
Ma: I think that the Internet is changing people and it has changed the world. In the next 20 years most of the things and most of the people in the world will be using the Internet. Like today people use electricity. So I believe that in 10 years in the world there are three top Internet companies and one of them will be from China and Alibaba wants to be that one of them.
CNN Talk Asia Transcript:
LH - You emerged from virtually nowhere, right? And you started this first Chinese internet company. Where did this idea come from? Was it something you read or ...
JM - In 1995, I went to Seattle and I ... My friend said Jack, 'This is internet.' And I have never heard about the internet and never used the computer before that day. My first time in my life I used the internet, I touched on the keyboard and I find well -- this is something I believe; it is something that is going to change the world and change China.
LH - What about China Pages?
JM -- China Pages, it was just...we were making home pages for Chinese companies and list it in the USA and let the world know about China companies. That's the earliest e-commerce, and that's probably the first internet company in China.
LH - But only with, I read, 2,000 dollars?
JM -- Yup, I borrowed 2,000 dollars from my relatives, my brother-in-law and my parents. So we started the company.
LH - And then you managed to convince international buyers to fork out another 100 million right?
JM -- Yeah, I think the China Pages was like, we invested 2,000 US dollars for 2 years and later we compete with China Telecom. They acquired us; we had a joint venture.
And the joint venture was not very successful. Until 1997, I was invited to the Ministry of Foreign Trade to work in Beijing for about 14 months. And later I believed if you want the government to promote e-commerce it'll be very difficult. It's better, from you know, it's better from ourselves. So in 1999, we start from zero for Alibaba.com. So we -- 18 founders -- we gathered 60,000 US dollars, and we start the business.
LH - How do you convince somebody to fork out that much money? I mean it's difficult when it comes to money? And you particularly didn't have a long track record right?
JM -- No, no, it's very difficult. For the first ... the time when I talked to the 18 founders, I invited all the friends of mine and the founders come to my home I talked to them that we're going to build up a company called Alibaba.com. I don't know what it's going to be, but just to helping the small and medium sized companies in the world. I said let's put our pocket money on the table. I give all my money on the table. We just gathered 60,000 US dollars. We thought we would last for about 10 months. But after 6 months we'd used up all the money! And we were lucky...after the 7th month we started to attract some VCs and they came to us and I just told them, this is what we're going to do. If you believe me, invest in us.
LH - The 1 billion dollar deal with Yahoo, how important was that deal for you?
JM -- I think that it was very, very important to us, because now in China, Alibaba now has almost 86%, according to the statistics, of market share in B2B. We're 72% of C2C market share, and we're the largest online payment. But we think for e-commerce in China, if we really want to go on, we need a search engine. We looked at Google and Yahoo, Microsoft and Baidu, and we think the Yahoo has the best technology. We should get the technology. The only problem they had was that they couldn't localize their technology in China very well. (LH: That's where you come in?) Yes, so we came in and said we need the technology; they need a great team...So! We start, and they invested. We said if you want...we acquire their China operation, and they can invest in our company. So 1 billion dollars, is a lot to us!
LH -- There are so many big names now who are entering the China market. Is the China market reaching saturation point do you think?
JM -- Oh no, I don't think so. I think the China market is big enough for more players and these multinational companies, I don't think they are the strong competitors of China local players. And more and more, China local companies will come up in the next five to ten years. And I think China is... We got 1.3 billion people; today only a hundred and 10 million people are using the internet -- still great potential on that.
LH -- Who's your biggest competitor?
JM -- Our biggest competitor? I think you technically can see that Ebay is and Google is. But I think that Alibaba is itself as well, because the market is so big, the growth so fast and we are such a young team. I think our know-how is a big competitor to us: how to grow, how to develop our own company. And by competing with Ebay and Google and Baidu and the other companies, I think we learn a lot.
LH -- What do you think then, you know, about the recent controversy surrounding Google and its censorship of it websites?
JM -- I think every country, you know every company go to any country have to follow the rules. And, in China you have to follow the local rules. You know we focus on e-commerce -- I've never got any problem with government in the last ten years.
LH -- So nobody's asked you to censor your...
JM -- No we are business sites; we help small or medium-sized companies. We create the jobs! We are doing so fine, be a good boy.
LH -- If they asked you, would you?
JM -- Well, it depends what things they want. If they are criminal things...no defiantly, we will help the police, and we need police to help us to catch some of the thieves on the web.
LH -- What about this issue about free and open information available on the internet? Is that something you would profess?
JM -- I think China is making big, big progress, and you can never use today's USA standard and European standard and say China should be USA today. That would be big
problem because this country being there for 2000 years it has its own history, so if you suddenly open everything and have a USA way of free democracy probably you will have big problems. So you see because of the internet, because of e-commerce because of the websites, china has changed. It's more open, and it's more transparent.
LH -- Now to some people Yahoo China did something quite unforgivable when it handed over, you know, e-mail information to the authorities, which led to the detention of some people. I know you weren't on Yahoo China at that point; still, it was a criticism that was laid against Yahoo China. What do you think about that?
JM -- First, I always tell myself, doing business in China, everywhere around the world you have to follow the rules. If you cannot change the law, if you cannot create the law, follow the law. Second, that we have a strict process that not everybody that give us a call and says give us the information, we will give it to you. They tell us what they need, and we find out whether it works or not.
LH -- So if something like that happened now, Mr. Ma, what would you do?
JM -- We would like... it depends, you know. In China, if they are sure the process is right according to our internal process, we will do in our way. And, I think because of Yahoo today in China we've been focused on entertainment, sports and finance. We are not political sites, and we are not interested in politics. We are only interested in e-commerce and entertainment.
Mr. Ma, you've mentioned that Alibaba when it first started was this business to business idea. Why did you choose to help smaller businesses and not stick with you know the big names, the big ones?
JM - When we first started our internet company, China Pages, in 1995, and we were just making home pages for a lot of Chinese companies. We went to the big owners, the big companies and they didn't want to do it. We go to state-owned companies, and they didn't want to do it.
Only the small and medium companies really want to do it. So we said okay, we'll help those who need help. We'll help those people who will help themselves. And later when we set up Alibaba, after 5 years of study we realized this: that small and medium sized companies are the group of companies who really need e-commerce. We believe the hope of China is small and medium sized companies? the private enterprise, not the state owned companies. So we said let's focus on that. And the other thing is that we realized, in the US, B2B companies, they focus on big companies. And they fail. They focus on big companies, and they focus on buyers and the philosophy of B2B in the USA is to help the buyers to save time. We think that is wrong. We want to help the small to medium-sized companies; we want to help the suppliers to sell the products.
LH - Now Alibaba... Fancy name, catchy too! But it conjures up, at least to me, something to do with thieves, not legitimate business. Why Alibaba?
JM - One day I was in San Francisco in a coffee shop, and I was thinking Alibaba is a good name. And then a waitress came, and I said do you know about Alibaba? And she said yes. I said what do you know about Alibaba, and she said 'Open Sesame.' And I said yes, this is the name! Then I went onto the street and found 30 people and asked them, 'Do you know Alibaba'? People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China... They all knew about Alibaba. Alibaba -- open sesame. Alibaba -- 40 thieves. Alibaba is not a thief. Alibaba is a kind, smart business person, and he helped the village. So...easy to spell, and global know. Alibaba opens sesame for small- to medium-sized companies. We also registered the name AliMama, in case someone wants to marry us!
LH - any suitors?
JM - The TaoBao C2C original name we wanted to use AliMama.com for the C2C auction, because we thought Baba does the business, Mama does the shop! Later we thought TaoBao was better than AliMama, so we'll keep AliMama for future use.
LH - How is TaoBao doing, anyway?
JM -- Very good (LH: Against Ebay?) Yeah, we are like, as for product listings, we are 11 times bigger. And we got like more than 72% of market share in china. In C2C, I think the game is over!
LH -- You have pledged to bring Alibaba public...When?
JM - Today at least, I don't have a time table for IPO, because the funny thing is that 10 years ago when I left university to build up a company, my dream was to build up a public company. Because building a public company in China is a symbol of success. Now I can bring Alibaba public anytime, and I suddenly realized that, no too early.
LH - So what needs to be in place? What do you need to see done before you would even consider listing?
JM -- E-commerce, we think, e-commerce time has not arrived yet. It is still a pre-mature time. And second that our team is so young, average age is 26 years old. The whole company is 7 years of history, and there are so many things in the system that needs to be built up. I think the business model has not come up. We have a lot of cash and revenue. We're very profitable now, but this is not a business model. I think the business model will only come in the year 2008, year 2009. So we want to be responsible to our customers and shareholders. Then you can go IPO. We're not in a hurry, since we're not short of cash.
LH - Corporate culture is a big buzz word around the world. How would you describe Alibaba's corporate culture?
JM - All the business people, they say Jack, 'What are you busy with now?' I said, 'I'm busy with building the value system.' They say, 'Jack, you're so stupid. 99 percent of business in China doesn't care about that. What they care about is making money. Making money is the business, making money is the value.' And I don't believe that. So we say well we just want to be the 1% that think making money is the result, making money is not the goal. Your goal is to change, influence the world and improve the country. The year 2002 was a tough year; we just wanted to break even. We make 1 dollar profit. The tough situation is that if you don't bribe, give kickbacks to companies... to your customers, you won't have revenues. So we had a big discussion within the company -- should we give kickbacks to the small- to medium-sized companies? Or shall we don't give it and don't have business? After a whole day's discussion, we decided that we'd rather close the company tonight, not give any corruption, bribery to anybody.
People said you will die. I don't believe that. And now after 5 years, we have such a good reputation. Alibaba spends money on improving the products and services, not on
kickbacks. That's a good thing. It's called a value system and because of that, we get more and more small- to medium-sized companies to support us in China.
LH - What have you taken from his novels and used it in say Alibaba.com? Is there anyway?
JM - Oh yes, of course! Even when competing with Ebay, I used a lot of this. So that's why people cannot understand why TaoBao fighting with Ebay this way! Because I learn from Kung Fu books! You can never learn from Harvard Business School!
LH - Workaholic, that is something you are. Do you ever make time for free time?
JM -- I don't think I'm a workaholic. Every weekend, I invite my colleagues and friends to my home to play cards. And people, my neighbors, are always surprised because I live on the second floor apartment, and there are usually 40 pairs of shoes in front of my gate, and people play cards inside and play chess. We have a lot of fun.
LH - Forbes has ranked you the 27th richest men in china, true?
JM -- I want them to give me the data. If I'm not, they should give me the money.
LH - Would you consider selling off Alibaba?
JM -- No! Too expensive, nobody can buy it. (laughs)
LH - So in the near future, what are your plans? What will be your focus? Strategic alliances? What can we expect from Alibaba.com?
JM -- I think Alibaba will keep on growing. And I think for me, what I'm interested in 3 things. One is, I give the target for TaoBao, is one minute create one million jobs for China. This is the clear KPI, key performance index, for our team. Secondly, we want to add another 10 million small and medium businesses on Alibaba's site. And third we want to create 10 billion RMB, 1 billion US dollars, for our partnerships. This is the goal for the year 2009.
Personally, I'm interested in intellectual property protection and environmental protection, and education. I was a teacher for 6 years and I call myself today, a CEO -- Chief Education Officer. I love to teach, I love to go back to school and share my experiences with young people and tell them, 'Hey, don't tell me that that CEO has 2 heads. We are the same! If he can be successful, if I can be successful, you can!' I tell them, share my true experiences with them, so this is what I'm doing. And the company, because we are building up a system, and we are growing, I think we will be the best company in China!