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Alibaba

‘Unlucky’ Alibaba billionaire Ma tells Summer Davos he’s used to hardship, tries to stay positive

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 September, 2015, 1:22pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 September, 2015, 4:29pm

Alibaba chairman Jack Ma Yun, one of China's richest men, said on Thursday that he is used to being "unlucky", as the e-commerce firm he founded saw its share price tumble in recent weeks.

There are "too many smart people to compete with" to maintain a leading position in the internet business for too long, Ma told an audience at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions, the World Economic Forum event held this week in Dalian, China.

Ma's comments come at a market sensitive time, as global investors expressed growing concerns over Alibaba's outlook amid an ongoing Chinese economic slowdown that has shaken consumer confidence and spending.

“No internet company can be a champion for continuous five years. It’s a tough business,” Ma said, speaking in English, during a panel at "Summer Davos".

"The good thing is we have too many smart people and the bad thing is also because we have too many smart people to compete with."

Ma didn't name any of his competitors, two of which – e-commerce firm JD.com and internet giant Tencent – have shrugged off market concerns and maintained an upward trend in share prices. Some analysts have warned that Alibaba's business model may be too complicated and lacking in focus, making it more difficult for the firm to maintain a competitive advantage in any single market.

In recent weeks, Alibaba's share price fell below its IPO price of US$68 per share. The Hangzhou-based internet firm – founded by English teacher-turned tech mogul Ma – went public on the New York exchange in September 2014, with its share price shooting to a record high of US$120 in November.

Speaking emotionally, Ma said that despite popular perception, luck was not the reason for his incredible business success.

“We have unlucky things happening everyday and I’ve got used to that,” said Ma, adding that he always tries to think positive.