Jack Ma launched a major charm offensive in the U.S. this week, aimed straight at the heart of America—the small business owner—with the goal of expanding Alibaba’s international presence by attracting American businesses. In the process, Ma also hopes to help usher in a new era of global peace and prosperity.
In a speech hosted by the Economic Club of New York, the founder and executive of Alibaba Group said he wants to help American small businesses grow—even declaring Alibaba’s commitment to creating American jobs— by helping the “little guy” connect with consumers in the vast global digital marketplace. Quartz favorably compared Ma’s pandering to small business owners to that of an American politician making a bid for presidency.
In his “stump speech,” Ma mentioned Alaskan fisherman and Washington cherry farmers as just a few examples of local American businesses helped by his company. Ma said that as incomes rise in China, Chinese consumers will increasingly demand higher quality products and a more diverse range of goods. And that’s where American producers come in:
“China has been focused on exporting for the past 20 years, and I think in the next 10 to 20 years China should be focusing on importing. China should learn to buy, China should spend the money, China should buy a lot of its things globally. And I think that American small business, American-branded products, should use the Internet and go to China.”
Alibaba already accounts for 80 percent of all Chinese online consumer shopping. Ma said he eventually wants 40 percent of sales to come from outside China. He’s got some more speeches to make, right now it’s at 2 percent.
Apart from job creation and other domestic issues, Ma also touched on international issues important to the American voter. Most notably, he predicted an upcoming World War III, but not to worry, it’s not the one you may think:
“The third world war is going to happen, and this war is not between nations. In this war we work together against the disease, the poverty, the climate change—and I believe this is our future.”
Instead of fighting for global supremacy, Ma says he sees the US and China working together to combat dangerous social ills. In this fight, Ma adds the internet will play a key role. Ma went further spoke further on his diplomatic vision after participating in a town hall-style event in Chicago, telling CNBC that he is “pretty confident” that current US-China tensions will pass. Ma based his predictions partly on the promise shown by today’s open-minded youth and says that companies should be thinking the same way:
“The younger generation is always better than (the) last generation. If you want to keep this company innovative, if you want the company to catch the future, keep the vision, rely on the young people.”
Ma also shocked observers when discussing Alibaba’s record-shattering $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange last year that made Ma the richest man in Asia. Actually, he’d like a do-over on the whole thing.
“Now, after the IPO, it’s much worse. If I had another life, I would keep my company private.” After all, money don’t mean a thing to Ma.
Watch as Ma locks up the youth vote, as well as the support of small business owners in his speech to the Economic Club of New York:
by Alex Linder