Jack Ma’s best month ever continues. After seeing his company take in a record $14.3 billion in sales in just one day last week, and getting the chance to awkwardly hang out with James Bond, you’d think it would be all downhill for the Alibaba CEO, but nope, earlier today he got interviewed by Barack Obama.
Ma and the U.S. President were both in the Philippines for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Manila. After Obama called on China to stop its land reclamation projects, a last minute change led to the American president moderating a panel discussion with Ma as well as a young Filipina entrepreneur, Aisa Mijeno.
Obama asked Ma how he thought that government and established businesses could help young entrepreneurs like Aisa.
Playing to the crowd, Ma quipped, “Government is simple — just reduce the tax, or no tax, for these guys,” he said gesturing out to the audience of assembled chuckling CEOs.
Later, Obama more directly suggested that Ma invest in the start-up company of his fellow panelist, which has developed a lamp powered by salt water.
“I’m just saying,” Obama shrugged. “Serving as a matchmaker here.”
Ma responded that for the past six years Alibaba has been putting 0.3 percent of its total revenue toward encouraging young entrepreneurs to find solutions to climate change and other environmental problems facing the world. Ma added that his platform is designed to empower small business owners to realize their dreams.
Speaking directly to Aisa, Ma imparting some of his famous wisdom:
A startup for entrepreneurs is like a baby. I have five babies, I’m an experienced father. My advice to you is: nobody can help you. We can only help ourselves. Investors, the government, the partners, they are uncles and aunties, but you are the mother of your kid. Don’t give up on the kid.
Despite his lucrative painting career, Ma isn’t planning to give up on his baby anytime soon. He has called expanding Alibaba outside of the China market a top priority. During the summer, Ma launched a charm offensive against American small business owners and doesn’t appear to be worried about a pending New York lawsuit brought against his company by French luxury conglomerate representing Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent for selling counterfeit goods.
Watch the entire panel discussion here:
[Images via NetEase // Video via Rappler]