Jack Ma’s Real Intention: Yahoo! or Alibaba?

Print Friendly

Soon after Jack Ma gave his keynote at the China 2.0 conference at Stanford University, the U.S. media was flooded with news that “Jack Ma is interested in buying Yahoo.” At a time when Yahoo!, one of the world’s first Internet pioneers, is struggling, a Chinese suitor sounds particularly alarming.

I was at the conference. Ma started his speech by assuring the audience that his appearance in the States has nothing to do with “getting to Yahoo.” But no one seemed to believe him. Most questions directed to him were in the vein of: “Do you plan to buy Yahoo?” “Have you approached Yahoo for a deal?” “How are you going to buy Yahoo and when?”

Jack Ma’s answer to these questions was, not surprisingly, politically correct: “I am very interested.”

People who speculate that Jack Ma’s aim is to acquire Yahoo! may have missed the point. His real intention may very well be to expand his Alibaba Group to the U. S. market. “I want to learn one thing here,” he said, “how we can help U.S. SMEs (small and medium enterprises). What value we can create between us, Amazon and eBay.”

That has always been Jack Ma’s ambition. People who have followed his story may know his famous line: “eBay may be a shark in the ocean, but I am a crocodile in the Yangtze River.” Now, the crocodile is testing the water in the ocean. Will the crocodile turn into a shark?

Read the full story by me on Forbes: Beware of Crocodile Entering the Ocean.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Remembering Steve Jobs

Print Friendly

Last night, after learning the shocking news of Steve Jobs’ passing, I went to Apple campus to pay tribute to him. Here are a couple of photos I took with my iPhone:

Some people set up a little memorial for him on campus. They brought flowers and cards, lit candles, and stood in silence. It was a somber scene.

In remembering him, I am glad that I have all Steve Jobs’ creation: Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air. He has certainly changed my life, and definitely changed the world.

Thank you, Steve. Rest in peace.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Google’s Uphill Battle in China

Print Friendly

While Google is considered too powerful in the United States – with “an online package of news, entertainment, blogs, and services drawn from all the world’s up-to-the-minute knowledge,” it is not in China.

According to iResearch, Google’s market share in China was only under 15%, down from about 25% earlier last year. Baidu, the Chinese search engine, has more than 69% of market share in China’s search-engine market. No double Baidu has an upper hand against Google in China because it has a deep understanding of Chinese users and their complex languages.

Most multinational companies found the China market is hard to crack. It took long time for multinationals to learn how to do business in China. The worst defeat was eBay – it shut down its China site last December and took a back seat in Tom Online, a Beijing based Internet portal that provides wireless value-added services with no experience in online auction business. Yahoo! had been in China for seven years. It finally threw itself to Alibaba, a local e-commerce company.

However, Google is not giving up. Recently, Google is joining China Mobile to launch a mobile-search-engine business. With more than 400 million cell phone users, China is the world’s largest cellphone market. Many industry observers are betting on the fact that Google is being favored among the business professionals – “in terms of future business development, Google does have a good base in China to grow on.”

The mobile search is critical for a country that has more than 400 million mobile phone users. But I don’t see why Baidu is not doing the same. In addition, how Alibaba comes to play a role in the search engine race is not clear. Google is definitely facing an uphill battle in China.

Innovation and Leadership

Print Friendly

Themed around “Innovation & Leadership,” the HYSTA annual conference, a signature event of the Silicon Valley premier Chinese entrepreneurial association, drew over 1,000 people at Hyatt Regency Hotel in Santa Clara on Saturday.

The conference brought together some impressive speakers and panelists, including the visionary venture capitalist John Doerr, to discuss the topic of leadership. Despite my hectic schedule, I managed to attend part of the conference. It turned out to be well worth the time. It’s very interesting to hear people talk about the growing pain of developing business leaders as China moves toward the global economy.

One of the challenges is that, although Chinese are very entrepreneurial, many of them focus on short-term gain and lack long term vision and perseverance. There is a real dearth of leaders who can lead organizations systematically to scale. One panelist pointed out, traditionally, Chinese culture rewards mediocre players rather than outstanding souls.

On the other hand, some people tried to transport the leadership skills learned in the United States to China. That doesn’t necessarily work either, because the leadership skills required in this environment are very different from the leadership skills required there. While there is no easy fix to these challenges, here are some take-aways from the panel that can shed some light:

  1. Although some leadership traits are born, leadership ability can be trained;
  2. Great leaders are the ones who want to make others successful;
  3. In order to become a leader, one needs to have self-knowledge;
  4. In today’s world, it’s important to know what’s happening around the world and be well-informed;
  5. It’s not what you say or do, but how you make other people feel that matters

The evening keynote by Mark Thompson, who is a friend of mine, was very inspiring. Mark interviewed over 200 the most successful people in the nation for his book Success Build to Last. He defines success for leaders as making meaningful impact that really matters.

While Chinese are working on their leadership challenges, Americans are wondering when China will take over the United States to become a global leader – that was the exact question from the audience. No one can answer this question easily. But I believe strongly that Americans and Chinese have different strengths that can be learned from both sides. They don’t have to be in competition; they can complement and balance each other to achieve a better world.

, , , ,

Chinese YouTube – Yoqoo

Print Friendly

A new Internet video sharing site Yoqoo (??) was launched in Beijing last month. Similar to YouTube in the US, it allows users to generate short video clips and share online with their friends and families.

The founder is my friend – the former COO of Sohu Victor Koo! According to Victor, Yoqoo lets people to watch funny clips to relax themselves before they start their day at work or when they leave their offices in the evening. “That will be a new lifestyle,” Victor said.

Video sites that offer clip sharing are getting increasingly popular in the United States. For instance, YouTube has quickly become one of the most-viewed website, with users uploading 50,000 video clips per day. The video offerings of Google and Yahoo! have also generated a lot of traction.

What’s different about Yoqoo is it taps into the opportunity of the convergence of broadband Internet, 3G (third generation) mobile technology and traditional TV networks. With the country’s 400 million mobile phone users and 3G technology, Yoqoo will allow users to download video clips to their handsets.

As to business model, Yoqoo is targeting advertisements from TV companies and even film makers. It also expects some studios to post trailers at the site as part of their marketing strategy.

However, the question remains who would watch video clips and how to navigate the ocean of information overload. In my opinion, an aggregator site that can help users sort out useful and quality information will be critical.

It seems to me in the past when we talked about Internet, it was about text and pictures. Now it’s about audio and videos. User-generated content is the trend. As Yoqoo’s logo says: “?????” – the world is watching!

, , ,,