Alibaba founder and former CEO Jack Ma may have retired, but that certainly doesn’t mean he’s keeping his mouth shut. Earlier this week, Ma spoke candidly about Alibaba’s failures in the mobile arena; specifically its failure to keep pace with competitor Tencent’s WeChat (which is already paying off big time for Tencent). Said Ma:
We [Alibaba] invested a lot of money but we weren’t lucky enough, and we didn’t have that much innovation. When it comes to innovation, Alibaba isn’t as good as Tencent; they have the powerful WeChat.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Alibaba is in trouble. The company is still raking in boatloads of money, and Jack Ma thinks the future looks bright: “The next five years will be the golden age of e-commerce [in China],” he said at a conference on Wednesday.
Still, Ma is right that the company is weak in mobile, and Tencent’s WeChat might not look like a threat as a chat app, but it’s already moving toward monetization and online-to-offline e-commerce is reportedly one of the paths Tencent has chosen for the app going forward. Whether it can unseat Alibaba remains to be seen, but it seems very unlikely. Innovative or not, Alibaba is a beast in China’s e-commerce sector, and not even Tencent will be able to take it down without a real challenge.