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

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.

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What the Rise of the Chinese Middle Class Means for Entrepreneurs

I will be speaking at Stanford University on April 12, 2011, on the topic of “What the Rise of the Chinese Middle Class Mean for Entrepreneurs.” It is part of Entrepreneurship in Asian High-Tech Industries seminar series run by Professor Dasher.

Below is an email announcement sent by Professor Dasher:

Our “Entrepreneurship in Asian High-Tech Industries” series has gotten off to a great start and continues with a *very exciting* session next week:

“What the Rise of the Chinese Middle Class Means for Entrepreneurs”

With Helen Wang, author of the book, The Chinese Dream

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
4:15 – 5:30 pm
NVIDIA Auditorium, Huang Engineering Center, Stanford

It’s fantastic that we could get Forbes columnist, consultant, and expert on China’s middle class, Ms. Helen H. Wang, to find time in her schedule to speak for us this week.   This session in our series is presented in cooperation with The Association of Chinese Students and Scholars at Stanford (ACSSS).  I’m also happy to say that Helen is another Stanford alum!

Originally from China, Helen has lived in the U. S. for over twenty years.  After earning her masters degree at Stanford, she joined at the prestigious think tank, the Institute for the Future, in Menlo Park, California, and consulted for Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, Oracle, and Bank of America.  She then became a Silicon Valley entrepreneur in Internet start-ups.   In 2004, Helen returned to Stanford as a Reuters Fellow, developing technology solutions for underserved communities. She has also founded a social venture, e-Mobilizer, to help woman micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries use mobile phones to access online markets.  E-Mobilizer has been nominated twice for the San Jose Tech Museum Award.  A sought-after speaker, Wang now divides her time between consulting for companies doing business in China and helping non-profit organizations make a difference.

Her 2010 book, “THE CHINESE DREAM: The Rise of the World’s Largest Middle Class and What It Means to You,” describes the explosive growth of the Chinese middle class over the last two decades and tells a number of riveting personal stories, including Helen’s own.  It has received commendations from various prominent scholars and business people, as described on her website.

In our seminar on Tuesday, 4/12, Helen will focus on the implications of this world-changing phenomenon for entrepreneurs in China and Silicon Valley.

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