Rui Ma, founder of Transformative Technology Academy and co-host of TechBuzz China podcast joined us to discuss Jack Ma’s recent announcement to step down as the chairman of Alibaba Group, the leadership transition within Alibaba Group and where they will be heading next. We discussed Jack Ma’s influence within the Alibaba Group and how his tenure with the company has led to Alibaba becoming one of the technology giants not just in China, but the rest of the world. We continued our conversation to the future with Daniel Zhang, the successor to Jack Ma’s chairmanship within Alibaba and where the group is heading with Ant Financial, Cainiao and international expansion in the midst of a leadership transition and what it means for their rivals: Tencent and Baidu.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • Rui Ma, Founder of  Transformation Technology Academy and Host of TechBuzz podcast by Pandaily produced by SupChina (LinkedIn, @ruima) [0:20]
    • Since our last conversation, what have you been up to? [0:30]
    • You have done some interesting discussions on topics in China which I hope to explore in the future:
      • What are your thoughts on Baidu vs Google part 2 if it is ever happening thanks to Glenn Greenwald’s breaking of Project Dragon Fly in the Intercept?  [1:24]
      • Could there be a scenario that Google will enter via Tencent instead of going direct? See the episode also on Google’s investment into JD. [3:03]
      • So, is Wechat really bullet-proof? [3:53]
      • How does Bullet Messenger compare against Ding Talk, the slack equivalent from Alibaba Group or Wechat for Work? [5:23]
  • Jack Ma and Alibaba’s Leadership Transition [6:49]
    • Alibaba Group today is a multi-national conglomerate specializing in ecommerce, retail, AI, cloud computing and finance (with Ant Financial) at over US$400B market capitalization with their founding in 1999 by Jack Ma along with another 17 founders. To help my audience, can you introduce Alibaba Group as a company and how they are perceived in China and the rest of the world? [7:25]
    • What’s Jack Ma’s role in Alibaba and how has he shaped Alibaba’s dominance in ecommerce and many other areas over the years? [10:25]
    • Porter ErismanCrocodile in the Yangtze” movie (check out his interview on Analyse Asia) and Alibaba’s culture is more reminiscent of a Silicon Valley company than a typical Chinese company [15:00]
    • Why has he decided to retire given that he is only 54 years old now? Compare and contrast with Pony Ma of Tencent and Robin Li of Baidu [16:47]
    • Analogy of BAT with Romance of Three Kingdoms [20:53]
    • Jack Ma wrote the memo to announce his departure, and the best line from him: “The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”, what are your thoughts on his memo (Chinese version)? [22:09]
    • Who is Daniel Zhang, the successor to his chairmanship next year this time? [24:25]
    • What are the key areas of focus which Alibaba are now heading in the next decade? [28:55]
      • International Expansion [29:13]
      • Ant Financial (TechBuzz China episode) and Cainiao IPO [30:38]
      • Smart Retail (online and offline) [33:14]
    • What does it mean for Tencent and Baidu and the rest of China tech giants, JD and TMD? [34:41]
  • Closing [37:03]
    • Can you recommend a book, movie, podcast or anything else that has recently impact your personal or work life? [37:08]
      • Rui Ma’s recommendations: Revisionist History podcast by Malcolm Gladwell and “3 Billboards” movie.
    • Where can my audience find you? [37:56]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong & weibo) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Altizen Desk (Twitter, Facebook, Medium). Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack.