Alibaba founder Jack Ma is probably the only business tycoon who regrets raising $25 billion in a single day in the world’s largest IPO. Speaking at the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday, Jack Ma said if he could do it all over again, he would keep Alibaba private. “If I had another life, I’d keep my company private,” Ma said during a luncheon.
Life is much worse after the IPO
Alibaba’s executive chairman is on a U.S. trip to woo small businesses. He encouraged the U.S. small businesses to sell goods to China’s growing middle-class via Alibaba’s platforms. Ma said most large U.S. corporations have built a strong presence in China, but it is not equally easy for small businesses. Alibaba could help them meet Chinese consumers’ growing demand for foreign goods.
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Ma said life was difficult for the e-commerce giant even before its record-breaking IPO. And now it is “much worse” after the IPO. Of course, the public offering gave Alibaba more capital to accomplish its goals. It also improved transparency, which would help the company in the long run. But, just like any other company going public, Alibaba came under intense scrutiny from regulators, investors and the media.
Alibaba trying to gain trust of U.S. small businesses
The Hangzhou-based company recently promoted its chief operating officer Daniel Zhang as its new CEO. Zhang has clearly said that he would aim to “globalize” Alibaba, in line with Jack Ma’s goal to serve two billion customers worldwide. Ma’s trip to the United States is a step in that direction. Experts believe that Alibaba needs to gain the trust of U.S. small businesses instead of positioning itself as a rival before entering the U.S. market. “We did not come here to compete. We came here to bring small business,” Ma said.
Alibaba founder did not hesitate to reveal the fact that New York was not his first choice for the company’s IPO. When asked why the e-commerce behemoth listed in the United States, Ma said, “We were rejected by Hong Kong.” The Hong Kong Stock Exchange did not approve of Alibaba’s governance structure, which gives Jack Ma and select partners a firm control over the board.