Alibaba Group

Alibaba's Jack Ma is 'delirious,' says real estate tycoon

Ma has upset some of the nation's wealthiest real estate tycoons by pledging to drive down the soaring price of housing with "the power of e-commerce".

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 3:52pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 November, 2013, 3:00pm

Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma Yun’s outspoken approach has not always made him friends among China’s average citizens, or the elite.

In the latest controversy the 48-year-old internet guru has upset some of the nation’s wealthiest real estate tycoons by pledging to drive down the soaring price of housing with “the power of e-commerce”.

Ironically, this follows Ma’s recent comments accusing tax-evading e-businesses of acting “immorally”.

Property tycoons – some among the country’s most influential microbloggers with millions of followers – meted out damning responses to Ma in a tit-for-tat verbal exchange online, with some describing the online entrepreneur as “delirious”.

Ma made his comments in a CCTV talk show, recorded on Sunday and scheduled to be aired on Friday, which were picked up by the media after transactions on Alibaba’s major retailing platforms – Taobao and Tmall – topped 35 billion yuan (HK$44.2 billion) on China’s biggest shopping day of the year on Monday.

“I don’t care so much about sales figures,” Ma said. “All I hope is to strike down the housing price with the help of the internet.”

If e-commerce is capable of taking business away from traditional bricks-and-mortar shops, it could also drive down commodity and property prices, Ma reasoned.

Zhang Jiwen, executive vice-president at the mainland’s largest property developer China Vanke, said he had found Ma’s rational ‘problematic’.

“I see. [So] this is Jack Ma’s logic,” Zhang commented on Weibo, “People ... say all sorts of things when they are delirious,” he added. 

“Then the reason we use Weibo is to kill the gap between the rich and the poor,” Chen Jingsong, a real estate consultant based in Shenzhen, wrote in another sarcastic comment.

“[Jack] Ma Yun likes to place himself on the moral high ground, and portray himself as a saviour by pitting the real estate industry against the Chinese,” Wang continued on Weibo.

Real estate magnate Ren Zhiqaing, with more than 15 million followers on Weibo, churned out an even more blunt response: “Well, 30 billion yuan can just buy you several blocks of lands in China.” referring to the 35 billion yuan in sales revenue Alibaba grossed on Monday. 

While some readers agreed with the tycoons, many championed Ma as a hero and slammed developers as callous and greedy.

“While real estate developers kill young people’s dreams, Ma Yun helps them to realise their dreams, “ wrote one microblogger.

“I respect Ma Yun for considering the interests of other people,” said another.

Video: Alibaba former CEO Jack Ma's farewell speech

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