Just days after announcing the opening of technology labs and to invest $15bn in research and development, e-commerce giant Alibaba has revealed its aim to create an 'Alibaba economy' and outlined the ambition of supporting five new strategy elements for the coming decades.
In a letter that included the strapline: "2017 Letter to Shareholders," Jack Ma, executive chairman of the Alibaba Group emphasized that "while public shareholders expect us to be profitable, our raison d’être cannot be merely to make money."
His letter read: "E-commerce is rapidly evolving into “New Retail.” The boundary between offline and online commerce disappears as we focus on fulfilling the personalized needs of each customer. In China, our New Retail initiatives are taking shape as the starting point to our “Five New” strategy, comprised of New Retail, New Finance, New Manufacturing, New Technology and New Energy."
Through this, Alibaba envisioned itself to be a platform that will enable the creation of 100 million jobs, serve two billion consumers and support 10 million profitable small businesses. Also, by 2036, he said that Alibaba’s infrastructure will support commerce activity with a combined transaction value that will rank as the world’s fifth-largest economy.
According to Ma, the Chinese government’s push for the “Belt and Road Initiative” presents a unique opportunity for Alibaba to grow its business internationally.
He claimed: "New Retail will bring about a restructuring of the global supply chain and change the complexion of globalization from the domain of big companies to small businesses."
Alibaba will also leverage the power of technology to further the development of rural China. Ma wrote: "If Alibaba can help rural villages and impoverished areas across China to improve their conditions through technology, then we will have a chance to make an impact in other places around the world. Technology does not have to be the culprit in widening the wealth gap around the world."
"I believe there is a massive opportunity to help alleviate poverty and catalyze economic development in China’s rural countryside through technology and innovation. This is our opportunity to showcase what we are really capable of."