/// Alibaba’s Jack Ma at Stanford: "We Are Very Interested" in Buying the "Whole" of Yahoo

September 30, 2011  |  All Things Digital


In answer to a direct question about whether his company was going to buy Yahoo at a forum at Stanford University in Silicon Valley this afternoon, Alibaba Chairman and CEO Jack Ma said: “We are very interested.” Said Ma: “We are very interested in Yahoo. Our Alibaba group is important to Yahoo and Yahoo is important to us…All the serious buyers interested in Yahoo have talked to us.” Finally, at least one crystal clear answer in the confusion at Yahoo and the first time Ma has indicated that he wanted to be a principal player in any deal around Yahoo rather than an element of a buying group. Later, in answer to a question about how he was going to do that, Ma said he wanted the “whole” company, but that the effort was complicated and included a number of players. Again, he said: “We are very, very interested.” I also asked him is he had visited Yahoo in his trip to California, which Ma said he has not in 15 days here. Apparently, he said he has mostly been sleeping and eating, as part of a longer term visit to the U.S. Ma’s declaration came as part of a lively closing keynote at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he talked about the Chinese Internet company’s growth, focusing on how China is the next great Web economy. Talking about competitors such as eBay, which have tried to enter the huge Asia market, he joked that “eBay might be sharks in the ocean, but Alibaba is a crocodile in the Yangtze.” Of course, given his presence in Silicon Valley, the main topic that was of interest in whether Ma was heading over to visit nearby Yahoo and what role he will play in the current internal debate over the company’s future in the wake of the ousting of its CEO Carol Bartz. The disposition on Yahoo’s Asian assets, which includes 40 percent of Alibaba and a large stake in Yahoo! Japan, are critical to the current strategic review of the company, since they make up a large part of its market valuation. In comparison, the value of its U.S. and other global assets are small. When later asked about his experience of being involved with Yahoo, which made a very canny investment in Alibaba many years ago, Ma also said that he would do it again, but not in the same way. The same way has to do with the level of foreign ownership, which Ma has been trying to reduce in a number of ways and which Yahoo has thus far resisted. To answer question about the fight between Ma and Yahoo over its Alipay fight, when Ma spun it out of Alibaba, he said the situation was tense, but that today “the problem is solved and I am half-burnt.” He was referring to a settlement, which will require a lot of growth from the still-nascent payments business. Ma was asked later about the biggest misunderstanding between the U.S

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Alibaba’s Jack Ma at Stanford: "We Are Very Interested" in Buying the "Whole" of Yahoo


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