Jack Ma: Economic Downturn is 'Growing Pain of Globalization'

Jack Ma discussed the future of e-commerce and entrepreneurship at a talk at the Asia Society. (Bill Swersey/Asia Society)

NEW YORK, March 12, 2009 - The head of China's biggest ecommerce company and pioneer of the Chinese Internet industry says the economic downturn is "not a crisis, but a growing pain of globalization."

In a discussion at the Asia Society, founder and CEO of Alibaba Group Jack Ma urged Americans to re-embrace the entrepreneurial spirit that made America great, and to take action and look for opportunities now, stating that a period of economic downturn is the best time to "get back to basics, and get back to values."

He further expressed optimism about American companies, many of which he finds inspirational. "Ten years [from now], I believe there will be more successful companies," he said. However, he stressed the importance of "putting customers first."

According to Ma, despite the current economic climate, Alibaba Group and its businesses, which include Taobao.com, China's largest consumer ecommerce company, and Alipay.com, a leading online payment platform, are thriving. Alibaba Group has plans to hire an additional 5,000 in 2009, and is on a recruiting drive to lure US engineers and workers to China.

Ma also said that Alibaba Group is looking to expand in the US. He and other Alibaba senior managers have recently met with Silicon Valley companies such as eBay, Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft, and Apple to discuss prospective partnerships.

Reported by Stephanie Valera, Asia Society Online