Jack Ma Flies Thousands of Miles to Palo Alto, Still Doesn’t Want to See Carol Bartz
Ma was spotted dining with Taobao CEO Jonathan Luk and other Alibaba executives at Fuki Sushi in Palo Alto last night, and a spokesperson for the company confirmed they were in town for meetings. Another source close to the company, who requested anonymity, said Alibaba was here to meet with several big Silicon Valley companies about potential partnerships with Taobao– and that a meeting with Yahoo was specifically not on the agenda.
Ma’s issues with Yahoo and desire to buy back Yahoo’s shares in Alibaba have been well documented. Also documented is Ma’s desire to explore other US partnerships, even though the one with Yahoo has turned sour. His ecommerce and epayment properties are so dominant in China that international expansion is the natural next step.
A lot has changed since the last time Ma was in negotiations with Silicon Valley. Back then it was companies like Yahoo that were surging, while China seemed an uncertain gamble. Today, two of the five largest Internet companies are Chinese, and TaoBao and payments company Alipay are two of the hottest private assets on the global Web. As we saw with Tencent’s purchase of Riot Games this month, a decade after most Valley companies failed to do well in China, China is getting more aggressive about expanding in the US.
Carol Bartz’ loss seems to be John Donahoe’s gain. eBay’s CEO Donahoe was cozying up to Ma in China last fall, appearing on stage at a conference together, and apparently swapping caricatures. Donahoe called Ma a good friend, and Ma said, “We have the same dream, the same purpose, face the same group of SME clients… This is the case today, and even more so tomorrow. I believe Alibaba team and Taobao team are always cooperating with the eBay team, and I think in the future we will cooperate more closely.”
If you catch a sighting of the two, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.