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Alibaba sets out global ambitions

News, 17 October 2016

HANGZHOU: Jack Ma, the billionaire founder and chairman of Alibaba, has outlined ambitious plans to expand the global reach of the Chinese e-commerce giant, creating 100m jobs in the process.

In a letter to shareholders last week, he expressed pride in what the company has achieved so far – Alibaba now has more than 430m annual active buyers, meaning a third of Chinese consumers have made a purchase on its retail marketplaces – but said he wanted to go further.

"We're proud of our accomplishments, but we want to do far more. We are not merely trying to shift buy/sell transactions from offline to online, nor are we changing conventional digital marketing models to squeeze out a little additional profit," he wrote.

"We are working to create the fundamental digital and physical infrastructure for the future of commerce, which includes marketplaces, payments, logistics, cloud computing, big data and a host of other fields."

With computing power as the new "technology breakthrough" and data as the new "natural resource", he said retail, financial services, manufacturing and entertainment will be transformed.

These developments are already manifesting themselves in the changes being seen in e-commerce, Ma said, adding that Alibaba is determined to meet the challenge.

"With e-commerce itself rapidly becoming a 'traditional business', pure e-commerce players will soon face tremendous challenges. This is why we are adapting, and it's why we strive to play a major role in the advancement of this new economic environment."

That major role includes not only helping businesses in China, but also extending Alibaba's reach "so we can help companies all over the world to grow".

Specifically, he said Alibaba hopes to serve 2bn consumers around the world within the next 20 years, helping 10m profitable businesses and creating 100m jobs.

"We believe, the commerce infrastructure we have created in China – marketplaces, payments, logistics, cloud computing and big data, all working in concert – can be applied on a global scale to lift up small and medium businesses and ordinary consumers around the world," Ma said.

Data sourced from Alibaba; additional content by Warc staff