Jack Ma: internet and automation will cause 30-years of pain
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Jack Ma: internet and automation will cause 30-years of pain

Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., has warned listeners the China Entrepreneur Conference in Zhengzhou, China, that continued disruption caused by the internet and automation will lead to three decades of pain. Establishing his credibility to make such a forecast, Ma said that he had warned people of the effect that Ecommerce would have on retail back in the trend’s early days. Although back then, no one listened.

Robots put to work in Chinese factories

He said: “In the next 30 years, the world will see much more pain than happiness. Social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sort of industries and walks of life. Fifteen years ago I gave speeches 200 or 300 times reminding everyone the internet will impact all industries, but people didn’t listen because I was a nobody.”

This time, Ma wants to be heard. Alibaba is the biggest Ecommerce company in China, and is spending billions of dollars to innovate its way into new areas – streaming video, cloud computing, finance, film production, and more. Though he is – like his western technocrat peers Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – generally positive about technology’s ability to change the world, Ma used the conference to send a blunt, but honest, message: change is here; you are with us, or you are extinct.

Ma was deeply critical of companies, and those within them, that refused to evolve into the new technological paradigm. For example, he claimed that cloud computing and artificial intelligence are now essential for business, and leaders who don’t know why should ask youthful employees to explain the subjects to them. He also defended the internet from “traditional industries” that complain about its effects on the economy: Tabao (Alibaba’s main online marketplace) has, he said, created “millions of jobs”.

Yahoo has copied Alibaba’s positive performance in 2017

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SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Alibaba has seen its share price appreciate by almost 30% (Yahoo, through which Dominion gains deeply discounted exposure to the stock, has duplicated this performance). This is a clear indication that investors and analysts alike believe the company has what it takes to fend off challenges from other big players in the space.

Ma is describing what is, essentially, a modern information technology-driven, version of the agricultural revolution. And companies that wish to prosper should take his words seriously: it is only a matter of time before companies that don’t embrace paradigm-shifting new technologies like Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing become non-competitive. Alibaba, like other big tech companies, has positioned itself squarely in a space where the continuation of this trend will only make it more valuable.

Disclosure

Dominion achieves discounted exposure to Alibaba’s stock via Yahoo, which it holds in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund. Additionally, Dominion holds a number of other companies – amongst them Tencent, Baidu, Amazon, and Alphabet – in its Global Trends range of Funds.


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The views expressed in this article are those of the author at the date of publication and not necessarily those of Dominion Fund Management Limited. The content of this article is not intended as investment advice and will not be updated after publication. Images, video, quotations from literature and any such material which may be subject to copyright is reproduced in whole or in part in this article on the basis of Fair use as applied to news reporting and journalistic comment on events.