Not a lot of people had heard of Alibaba Group Holdings Limited (BABA) as recently as five years ago. Now the Chinese e-commerce behemoth seems to be everywhere, and according to its founder, it is poised to become the world's fifth largest economy by 2036.
Alibaba chairman and founder Jack Ma made the announcement while speaking to investors last week. According to Ma, the company he founded will have created 100 million jobs and will support 10 million businesses on its platform by 2036. For context, the United Kingdom, which is currently estimated to be the world's fifth largest economy at $2.9 trillion, had a population of 65.6 million by the middle of last year and an estimated workforce of 31.95 million. Alibaba is planning to have gross merchandise value (GMV), or the total value of products sold on its platform, of $1 trillion by 2020. (See also: Understanding Alibaba's Business Model.)
In an interview with CNBC, Ma said that helping small businesses grow and sell their products "across the board," meaning across global economies, will help create jobs. "We can no longer have massive trade deficits and job losses," he said, referring to the escalating rhetoric and tension between the United States and China due to outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to the latter country. (See also: Jack Ma: Success Story.)
According to Ma, trade can help defuse political and economic tensions between countries. As an illustration of his theory, he said that goods made in the United States, a favorite talking point for President Trump, would be great for China's middle class, whose ranks are swelling rapidly. Recently, Chinese consumers bought 2 million tubes of lipstick made in America from Alibaba's platforms.
In its most recent quarter, Alibaba recorded an international commerce revenue increase of 288% from the previous year. In addition to acquiring local e-commerce operations such as Lazada, Ma has been crisscrossing the globe spreading his gospel of international e-commerce. The CNBC interview quotes him as saying that he plans to boost his travel to 1,000 hours this year, an increase of 200 hours from last year. (See also: AI Could Start Third World War: Alibaba's Jack Ma.)