Alibaba CEO Jack Ma reveals the one thing that’s more important than working for a big company

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Alibaba billionaire and business sage Jack Ma is known for dishing out wisdom on occasion. This time, in front of a younger audience, he revealed a general timetable for gaining business experience as well as what young people who aspire to work for big companies should seek instead.

Here’s an excerpt from his interview:

Before 20 years old, be a good student. If possible, get some work experience.

“Before 30 years old, follow somebody. Go to a small company. Normally in a big company, it’s good to learn processing. You are part of a big machine. But when you go to a small company, you learn the passion. You learn the dreams. You learn how to do a lot of things at one time.”

“So, before 30 years old, it’s not which company you go, it’s which boss you follow. It’s very important. A good boss will teach you a differently.

From 30 to 40 years old, you have to think very clearly — you work for yourself if you want to be an entrepreneur.

“When you are 40 to 50 years old, you have to do all the things you are good at. Don’t try to drop into new areas. It’s too late. You may be successful, but the rate of dying is too big. So 40 to 50, think about how you can focus on things that you are good at.

“But when you are 50 to 60 years old, work for young people because young people can do better than you. So rely on them, invest in them and make sure they are good.

“When you are over 60 years old, spend time for yourself. On the beach, sunshine. It’s too late for you to change.”

Ma also revealed that his biggest regrets are being a famous billionaire, because it took his privacy away, and that he wished he could spend more time with his family.

Watch out Spotify… Chinese web commerce giant Alibaba set to launch a new music division Alizila

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Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, attends the 2015 China Green Companies summit on April 21, 2015 in Shenyang, China.

Billboard:

Alibaba, the Chinese web commerce giant whose stock serves double-duty as Yahoo’s revenue shield, has announced the formation of a division to focus on the music industry.

The company’s news site, Alizila, reported on June 20 that Alibaba, which boasts a market capitalization of $207 billion, had made an announcement of the launch on June 15, though no statement to that effect is visible on the company’s site.

Alibaba Music Group will be run by chairman Gao Xiaosong, a singer-songwriter and talk show host, and CEO Song Ke, a former executive with Warner Music. One of the company’s first announcements was that it will fold its two existing music streaming apps, Xiami — which Alibaba acquired in 2013 — and Tiantian into one.

“It is hoped that [Gao and Song] will creatively disrupt and catalyze the music industry… combining their cumulative experience… with Alibaba’s capabilities in the Internet space and big data,” Alibaba said in a statement.

While Alibaba Music Group is entering a crowded international market, it is one of the few companies in China that can operate at scale in that country’s fraught music space (it established a framework to support international intellectual copyrights in the ’90s), along with Baidu, Tencent and Youku.

In March of this year Alibaba signed a distribution agreement with BMG, giving the company legal access to 2.5 million song copyrights including Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones. It also was reported to be planning a $200 million investment in another hot tech company, Snapchat. Its chief rival, Tencent, announced deals with Sony Music and Warner Music Group in late 2014.

Chinese web firms delete more than 60,000 accounts as new rules loom

Wall Street Journal: (by Josh Chin)

Chinese Internet companies have deleted tens of thousands of user accounts as the country prepares to enforce new registration rules that will further cement government control over online discourse.

A total of more than 60,000 accounts across a number of Chinese Internet platforms were deleted in recent days, chiefly because of misleading or harmful usernames, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement dated Thursday. Among them were accounts that masqueraded as government departments, carried commercial names such as “Come Shoot Guns” and “Buy License Plates,” spread terrorist information or sported erotic avatars.

Unverified accounts falsely claiming to represent state media were also shut down, the agency said, adding that it covered everything from microblogs to chat accounts to online discussion forums. Companies listed as having taken part in the cleanup included top U.S.-listed Chinese tech giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. , Tencent Holdings Ltd. , SinaCorp. and Baidu Inc.

The comprehensive creation of a clear and bright Internet space requires active and positive conduct from enterprises,” the regulator’s statement said.

The new rules aim to further tame the country’s already tightly controlled Internet by prohibiting the use of deceitful or harmful identities and requiring Internet users to submit genuine personal information when registering for online services. They were announced earlier this month and go into effect March 1.

China has attempted to implement similar limits in the past, with mixed success. The current effort, however, arrives at a time of intense ideological and political tightening as Chinese President Xi Jinping moves to reassert Communist party dominance over public discourse, particularly online.

Venture capitalist and Chinese blogging pioneer Isaac Mao warned that requiring users to register with their personal information to use any Internet service would stifle expression and creativity online.

It definitely has a chilling effect,” Mr. Mao said. “In the long run, freedom of speech and freedom of innovation will be dramatically harmed.

Weibo Corp. ’s microblogging service deleted 5,500 accounts, according to the regulator’s statement. They included accounts that spread information related to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a separatist group from the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Tencent canceled instant messaging and other social media accounts related to gambling, firearms, fake invoices and fake food-safety information, the regulator said.

Neither company immediately responded to requests for comment.

Some analysts have warned that the new rules could make things challenging for Chinese Internet companies by increasing operational costs while reducing total user numbers.

Yet tighter registration might also improve the quality of their users, said Xiaofeng Wang, a senior analyst at Forrester.

Marketers and consumers have become more mature. They’re getting past the stage where they care only about the total number of users,” she said. “They’ve realized the important thing is the actual, active users.”

Baidu dismissed the idea that the deletions would have an impact on its business. The search giant removed more than 23,000 accounts from its popular PostBar, or Tieba, discussion forums, mostly for promoting “vulgar” culture or featuring erotic avatar images, the agency said.

It’s a vanishingly small percentage of the total number of Baidu PostBar accounts, which number in the hundreds of millions,” said Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo. He declined to comment further on what the company was doing to comply with the new requirements.

The regulator didn’t say whether Alibaba had deleted any accounts, but said the company had set up a special working group to manage usernames on its various platforms. Alibaba declined to comment.

Ms. Wang said further restrictions on speech could hurt the attractiveness of social media platforms, but said that companies were unlikely to resist. “With the Internet, you always have to obey certain rules if you want to operate a business in China,” she said.

Billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba is sending Chinese gay couples to get married in California

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Alibaba, along with Chinese companies Taobao and Danlan, are doing something extra special for several Chinese gay couples this Valentine’s Day — they’re helping them tie the knot in Los Angeles’ most fabulous town.

Chinese LGBT news site Danlan, along with Blued, China’s leading gay dating app, and three LGBT nonprofits, recently teamed up to hold an online contest to find 10 lucky couples to be awarded with California-based wedding and honeymoon packages. The winning pairs were chosen by 75,000 voting netizens out of more than 400 video submissions of couples telling their love story.

Melanie Lee, a spokesperson for Alibaba, said the contest “hopes to evoke respect and understanding of homosexuality and support the realization of dreams … It’s more of a symbolic kind of gesture.”

West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico, who lives in WeHo with his partner Keith and their two dogs, will serve as a wedding witness. Gay marriage is illegal in China and the couples’ weddings will not be recognized in their own country, but when love is on the line, you just have to go for it.

This also isn’t the first time Alibaba has launched an LGBT-friendly campaign; last year, they featured a gay couple in their promo video for “Single’s Day” in Asia, according to Shanghaiist.

Why billionaire Jack Ma hired a Tai Chi master as his personal bodyguard

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Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently became the richest man in Asia with a net worth of $28.6 billion according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Naturally, someone that important should hire some muscle, only Jack Ma hired a master of Tai Chi instead.li 4
Tai Chi, made famous by slow-moving elderly people in parks, isn’t traditionally known as a fighting technique. It focuses on soft, internal power rather than hard power, which we would attribute to fighting styles in kung fu or karate. As a master of the flow, Li Tianjin can use Tai Chi as an incredible form of self-defense At 35-years-old, Li stands at just over 5-foot-6-inches weighing 188 pounds. Before accepting the quest of guarding the eccentric but frail billionaire Jack Ma, Li was a coach at the Tai Chi Temple in Hangzhou.

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Li was born in the birthplace of Tai Chi in Chenjiagou, Wen County, in Henan Province.

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He began his practice of Tai Chi at the age of 8.
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By the time he was 14, Li became the apprentice of Wang Xi’an, a grandmaster of Chen-style Tai Chi, which can definitely be used as physical self defense. At 19, he won his first Tai Chi competition and went on to win several titles on the national level.

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A Jack Ma biography in Chinese, titled “Ma Yun in Cloth Shoes,” tells 27 stories that shaped Ma’s life, one of which took place in Mongolia when Li allegedly destroyed a wrestler “in the blink of an eye.”

Once, Jack Ma and some members of the Nature Conservancy went to Hulun Buir Grassland in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for a study. There, a tenacious Mongolian wrestler approached them with a challenge: ”Three of you can pick one of us to have a fight.” Li came forward and replied, “Which one is the best wrestler among you all? Come fight with me.” Unsurprisingly, the low-profile Tai Chi master defeated the best Mongolian wrestler among them.

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Tai Chi has also heavily influenced Jack Ma’s life philosophy, and he sticks to three principles — calm, follow and abandon. Always remain calm no matter what, follow the flow after knowing one’s strength, and abandon your burden in life. Nobody better mess with Jack Ma.

Santa’s real workshop: the town in China that makes the world’s Christmas decorations

Santa's workshop … 19-year-old Wei works in a factory in Yiwu, China, coating polystyrene snowflakes with red powder.
Santa’s workshop: 19-year-old Wei works in a factory in Yiwu, China, coating polystyrene snowflakes with red powder. 

There’s red on the ceiling and red on the floor, red dripping from the window sills and red globules splattered across the walls. It looks like the artist Anish Kapoor has been let loose with his wax cannon again. But this, in fact, is what the making of Christmas looks like; this is the very heart of the real Santa’s workshop – thousands of miles from the North Pole, in the Chinese city of Yiwu.

Our yuletide myth-making might like to imagine that Christmas is made by rosy-cheeked elves hammering away in a snow-bound log cabin somewhere in the Arctic Circle. But it’s not. The likelihood is that most of those baubles, tinsel and flashing LED lights you’ve draped liberally around your house came from Yiwu, 300km south of Shanghai – where there’s not a (real) pine tree nor (natural) snowflake in sight.

Christened “China’s Christmas village”, Yiwu is home to 600 factories that collectively churn out over 60% of all the world’s Christmas decorations and accessories, from glowing fibre-optic trees to felt Santa hats. The “elves” that staff these factories are mainly migrant labourers, working 12 hours a day for a maximum of £200 to £300 a month – and it turns out they’re not entirely sure what Christmas is.

Wei gets through at least 10 face masks each day, trying not to breathe in the cloud of red dust.

Maybe it’s like [Chinese] New Year for foreigners,” says 19-year-old Wei, a worker who came to Yiwu from rural Guizhou province this year, speaking to Chinese news agency Sina. Together with his father, he works long days in the red-splattered lair, taking polystyrene snowflakes, dipping them in a bath of glue, then putting them in a powder-coating machine until they turn red – and making 5,000 of the things every day.

In the process, the two of them end up dusted from head to toe in fine crimson powder. His dad wears a Santa hat (not for the festive spirit, he says, but to stop his hair from turning red) and they both get through at least 10 face masks a day, trying not to breathe in the dust. It’s a tiring job and they probably won’t do it again next year: once they’ve earned enough money for Wei to get married, they plan on returning home to Guizhou and hopefully never seeing a vat of red powder again.

Packaged up in plastic bags, their gleaming red snowflakes hang alongside a wealth of other festive paraphernalia across town in the Yiwu International Trade Market, aka China Commodity City, a 4m sq m wonder-world of plastic tat. It is a pound shop paradise, a sprawling trade show of everything in the world that you don’t need and yet may, at some irrational moment, feel compelled to buy. There are whole streets in the labyrinthine complex devoted to artificial flowers and inflatable toys, then come umbrellas and anoraks, plastic buckets and clocks. It is a heaving multistorey monument to global consumption, as if the contents of all the world’s landfill sites had been dug-up, re-formed and meticulously catalogued back into 62,000 booths.

The two men produce 5,000 red snowflakes a day, and get paid around £300 a month.

The complex was declared by the UN to be the “largest small commodity wholesale market in the world” and the scale of the operation necessitates a kind of urban plan, with this festival of commerce organised into five different districts. District Two is where Christmas can be found.

There are corridors lined with nothing but tinsel, streets throbbing with competing LED light shows, stockings of every size, plastic Christmas trees in blue and yellow and fluorescent pink, plastic pine cones in gold and silver. Some of it seems lost in translation: there are sheep in Santa hats and tartan-embroidered reindeer, and of course lots of that inexplicable Chinese staple, Father Christmas playing the saxophone.

It might look like a wondrous bounty, but the market’s glory days seem to have passed: it’s now losing out to internet giants like Alibaba and Made In China. On Alibaba alone, you can order 1.4m different Christmas decorations to be delivered to your door at the touch of a button. Yiwu market, by comparison, stocks a mere 400,000 products.

A Christmas corridor in District Two of Yiwu International Trade Market.

Aiming at the lower end of the market, Yiwu’s sales thrived during the recession, as the world shopped for cut-price festive fun, but international sales are down this year. Still, according to Cai Qingliang, vice chairman of the Yiwu Christmas Products Industry Association, domestic appetite is on the rise, as China embraces the annual festival of Mammon. Santa Claus, says the Economist, is now better known to most Chinese people than Jesus.

The beaming sales reps of Yiwu market couldn’t sound happier with their life sentence of eternal Christmastime. According to Cheng Yaping, co-founder of the Boyang Craft Factory, who runs a stall decked out like a miniature winter wonderland: “Sitting here every day, being able to look at all these beautiful decorations, is really great for your mood.”

It’s somehow unlikely that those on the other end of the production line, consigned to dipping snowflakes in red-swamped workshops for us to pick up at the checkout for 99p, feel quite the same way.

Chinese online retailer Alibaba sets a new record with $8 Billion USD in sales in a single day

Image of Chinese Online Retailer Alibaba Sets a New Record with $8 Billion USD in Sales in a Single Day

Chinese online retailer Alibaba is not afraid to make waves. After putting the world on notice with an IPO valuing the company at $168 billion (for reference, Amazon had a valuation of $438 million when they went public), Alibaba has just set a new earth-shattering record with $8 billion USD in sales in just 24 hours.

Coinciding with Single’s Day – a Chinese shopping holiday billed as an “anti-Valentines” day held on November 11 – the landmark figure sets a new precedent in retail sales, and easily breaks the previous record of $5.8 billion, set by Alibaba during last year’s Single’s Day. Fun fact: $2 billion worth of sales were made in the first hour alone.