Monday, September 17, 2018

The difference between Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos, and Allibaba and Amazon, is one is for inclusion while the other is about domination

Last week, Russia held its annual Eastern Economic Forum in Valdivostok where several Eurasian leaders and business moguls came together to discuss trade, economics, and cooperation.  And included in this conclave was the CEO of China's largest online retail portal, Jack Ma.

Jack Ma is an interesting character in the landscape of business as he is far more interested in using his company to better the lives of others than to simply accumulate vast riches.  And in a change from traditional Chinese moguls, who for the most part tend to stay on board and in control until the end of their life cycles, Ma is planning to retire at age 55 to dedicate his time towards education and philanthropy.

Interestingly as well, Russian President Vladimir Putin went out of his way to speak to China's greatest rags-to-riches celebrity, and jokingly asked him why he was choosing to step down at such a young age.

“I’d like to ask that young man sitting over there eating Russian snacks, Jack Ma, you are still so young, why are you retiring?” Putin asked Ma, who was also a participant at the forum. The Eastern Economic Forum is the fourth time that Ma and Putin have met. 
Ma seemed caught by surprise at the sudden question. However, he told Putin he was no longer a young man. 
“I spent my 54th birthday in Russia yesterday,” Ma responded. “I have been [running Alibaba] for 19 years and achieved something, but there are still many things I hope to accomplish, like education and philanthropy.” – South China Morning Post
Following this response, Jack Ma went onto say that one of the primary things he wishes to accomplish in his 'retirement' is the bringing together of like-minded governments, businesses, and peoples to enrich everyone in an equitable and fair market setting.
Ma also made several suggestions to Putin, according to mainland China media reports, including the use of online trade road to drive efforts in the Belt and Road Initiative, strengthen Sino-Russian technology cooperation, develop trade, tourism, technology and training, as well as increase support for small-and-medium sized businesses and training for young people.
Flipping over to the United States, and the West's most successful retail business mogul, there are stark contrasts between Ma and his rival Jeff Bezos, and their two companies Alibaba and Amazon.

Looking across the board at their business styles, their agendas, how they treat customers and how they treat their employees, you can quickly see the contrasts of one man who is dedicated towards he inclusion and success of everyone involved, and the other who lacks empathy and is only interested in complete domination.

According to the website Glassdoor, Alibaba rates a 4.3 out of 5 in employee benefits.  And interestingly as well, the majority of reviews appear to be coming directly from the employees themselves rather than from 'paid reviewers' which Amazon has been accused numerous times of using.

Alibaba:


Amazon:

Additionally when it comes to how each company deals with their business customer base, Jack Ma is just as dedicated to the millions of businesses who sell to his customers on the Alibaba website as he is to his employees, and has created both payment processors and financial centers to help them grow through their use of the web portal.
Ma’s secret? His understanding of the power of the internet in putting buyers and sellers together, and his obsession with helping small companies, via eBay-like marketplace Taobao, bulk supplier 1688.com and Alibaba.com, a business-to-business site for wholesalers. The group also has marketing services and a financial lending affiliate including PayPal-like Alipay, which has 520 million users around the world. - CNBC
Meanwhile Bezos, like the retail chain Walmart, continuously puts restrictions and demands on their business and product partners so they squeeze every penny out of them when it comes to margins.
By contrast, Amazon — with no stores and an IT infrastructure that makes the cost of adding items to sell close to zero — doesn’t care what you buy, or even which of their online partners you use, as long as you buy the product through Amazon. Take books, the focus of the recent conflict. Walmart stocks a relatively small selection, so it wants to move the specific books it offers. Walmart’s interests line up quite nicely with the authors and publishers it promotes. Amazon stocks everything (except apparently now books published by Hachette), so it doesn’t care which particular book you buy. Simply put, Amazon has less incentive to make any specific supplier successful. To Walmart, for books or anything else, selling a million units of one item is great; selling one unit of a million items is impossible in its physical stores. For Amazon, who cares? That’s why relationships with suppliers, always contentious, will be particularly problematic at Amazon, especially when Amazon controls so much of the retail market share. - Time
In the end American businesses like Amazon should go back in time and remember the policies of auto maker Henry Ford, who not only paid his workers $5 per day during the early part of the 20th century, but sold his cars at a profit of $1 each so that more people could buy them, including his own employees.  And ironically it took a Chinese CEO to recognize this and is perhaps why Alibaba in the end will win out internationally, and where Amazon is left to strip the carcasses of American retail.

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