Alibaba: from Ma to Zhang

Taitau is a Lithuanian brand of especially high quality – natural chocolate. We love it, so will you.

WPBeijing was a marketing studio founded by Peter Bic and Everlyne Yu in Beijing, October 2003. In 2017 it became known as Bicyu NZ Co Ltd. Aim2D is an umbrella media arm of Bicyu. This article is part of a Weekend Series where we dare to share some of our experiences and insights. So, make yourself a pot of Oolong tea, grab a chocolate bar and settle down for a longer read of this episode…..

A Personal Recollection


A long, long time back- I had only been in China less than 6 months- I was invited to a meeting.
At the time I was in DongBei, [North East China] Jilin province, circa 2002.
The meeting was more of a presentation. Some funny Chinese guy, an ex English teacher was speaking re some venture he wanted to begin. He was looking for sponsors, funding, trying to create interest generally.

The presentation was, funnily enough, in Chinese so I understood zero. Later however, my colleagues explained the situation to me. He was generally dismissed by most people there.
This was after all, rural China, 2002, his talk of Internet, on line shopping, a new, open, market driven, consumer economy model was, to most people, a far fetched futuristic idea. A joke.

I mean back then, in that part of China and many others, making and keeping an Internet connection of any decent strength and duration was some sort of technological achievement and wonder in itself. There was also the issue of the electricity supply. It was not unusual for power outages to occur at any time. I felt he was pretty much laughed at. How does that expression go again:
“He who laughs last laughs longest?”

That funny little guy was of course Mayun, better known now as Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.
So, although I can not honestly say I “met” him and shook his hand, I can say I remember when he was working the country, trying to start up his now massive empire. I av also remember watching, and, like most Chinese unable not to be impressed, amazed and admire the man as he relentlessly pushed his barrow. Over the years Mayun became a household name and his vision rooted and took form.

He was not just tireless in his efforts but had an effervescent, outgoing personality. An entertainer at heart. It was a combination of his determination and high visibility that helped push him to success. He was I feel the inspiration and role model for many if not all of the China tycoons that followed. Perhaps in 100 years, analysts will conclude that Mayun was the turning point for China.

So, that is my earliest memory of Jack Ma and Alibaba.

Alibaba today: CEO Daniel Zhang

Today he has stepped down as CEO of Alibaba and focused on other aspects of his life and passions. The reigns have been taken over by Daniel Zhang. So what do we know about him?
In this site we have stated many times that generally mainstream media news re China is of precious little help to businesses looking for meaningful, insightful gen. We also said there are some very good business publications that give a fair, balanced and honest account.

Among them we would count the McKinesy Quarterly.
Around September 2019 McKinsey’s Daniel Zipser sat down with Alibaba’s Daniel Zhang who talked about Alibaba’s approach to innovation, the power of purpose at Alibaba, and how Zhang balances analytics and instinct to guide his own decision making and push himself to spot hidden opportunities.

If you are interesed in the Alibaba philosophy, where it may be heading in the future, then this -FREE- downloadable PDF will definitely interest you. It is somewhat of a long tome so make sure your teapot is topped up with fresh, hot water. Maybe another chocolate bar is in order also.

Published by The Bic

Bicyu is a NZ registered, British owned MarTech business based in Beijing providing marketing, tech, education and information services to European, NZ, Australian, UK, African, and Asian firms doing business in China. We work with local ones too. We've been here doing this since 2003. We also incorporate Aim2D and Uengager in our small brand list.

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