Davos 2017: An Insight, An Idea with Alibaba Founder, Jack Ma (Transcript)

Interviewer: I am going to open up to questions but a final one for me. There’s been a lot of speculation that you’re going to get into the business of Hollywood. Your name has appeared Alibaba Group at the beginning of a couple of big films recently. What is the ambition for Alibaba in the entertainment world?

Jack Ma: The beginning like this several years, every five years we have a review for our strategy. Now our strategy is always look at the 30 years and 10 years. Every strategic decisions we make, we have to ask one question: Does this decision we make solve. society problem? Because we believe the bigger social problem you solve, the more successful you are. So if we do — this cannot solve any social problems, we don’t do it.

Second, is this project going to be successful in 10 years? If this is going to be successful in 10 years, let’s do it. If it’s going to be successful in one year or one month, then I will say forget about it. Because why you can be successful in one year or one month. So we all have to fulfill it and five years ago we had a big debate about ten years later, twenty years what are the things the China society, the world want. So we say happiness and health. 2H strategy: happiness and health. We believe Hollywood — the movie industry bring people happy, because today nobody is happy. Rich people are not happy, poor people not happy. At least when I watch a movie, I feel happy, right? So I think we should partner with the Hollywood, especially like a lot of — we have a different way of living and in China, the movie, we have a lot of heroes. But China movies, heroes always dead, the American movie, hero never die. If all the heroes die, who want to be the hero? So my movie, I want to make the hero live.

So this is — this is I think we should learn a lot and it’s only about two years. So we have another eight years to go. I want to make our company that it’s not e-commerce. It’s something that’s giving people inspirations, giving people — because I learned a lot. For example, we will see that my favorite movie Forrest Gump. You know life is tough. This is I learned and that inspired me. That is why when people call me crazy, stupid in the past 17 years, you’re crazy, you’re doing something that will never work, you are stupid. How can you do that model? Amazon, this model; eBay this model, why Alibaba, this model? I told myself ‘Forrest Gump said, go ahead, never care about what the other people’. And the other thing, Forrest Gump said nobody makes money out of catching whales, people make money by catching shrimps. So we serve small business.

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Interviewer: Fair enough. Jack Ma, we should probably end it there. Because we’re going to run out of time. But I thank you.

Jack Ma: Thank you.

Interviewer: Thank you so much for the conversation. I promised we’d sneak in a question or two when literally have two minutes, so they’re going to get upset with me. And if you have a question and we’re going to have — I got to beg you to do it within literally a second to go for it right there.

Audience question: [Question inaudible]

Jack Ma: Well I don’t think so. I think China and the U.S. should never have a trade war, we’ll never have a trade war. And I think we should give President-elect Donald Trump some time and he’s open minded. He’s listening. And I think the war — it’s so easy to launch a war. But it’s so difficult, almost impossible sometimes to terminate a war: Iraq war, Afghanistan war. Is that finished? No. Trade war, I believe one thing, when trade stops, the war starts. Trade is something that people start to communicate. Trade is something people exchange culture and value. And I would be happy, if China-USA agree on something and Alibaba business model destroyed, I would destroy Alibaba model by stopping the war beating, because how can you imagine the first largest economy of the world, second largest economy of the world have a trade war? It’s going to be a disaster for two countries and for the world. If we can — anybody can do something to stop it, do anything to stop it.

Interviewer: Did you have a reaction to Trump and the situation with Taiwan and how he’s thinking about that?

Jack Ma: Well, Taiwan, I think this is not something about government. This is not something about business, it’s something about the people. If Taiwan issue is the population, if you do Taiwan issue, it’s like against 1.4 billion people. So this is another issue. So we’re talking about trade. We’re not talking about Taiwan.

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Interviewer: Very politic. Let’s take one final question if we can. I think we can steal one more in. Yes sir, right there.

Jack Ma: I’m not a politician.

Audience question: How do you assure you are not messing up people’s life and you’re not dictating the whole credit kingdom or the system, because now you are the decision makers, your are the rule makers?

Jack Ma: OK. First, I’m not sure, people say oh, this is uncertain world. Everyday is uncertain. The only certain day was yesterday. I’m not sure about that in the future, I think I would dictate, I would be stupid. That’s why I should retire early when I’m young. That is why I have a lot of things that I dream, I want to do, I want to be a philanthropist, I want to be a teacher, I want to go back to school. I want to build the environment. And the world is so wonderful, why should be the CEO of Alibaba all the time? I’ve come into this world, not to work. I want to come to this world to enjoy my life. I don’t want to die in my office. I want to die on the beaches.

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