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We’ve been doing the rounds in Shanghai this week, and hope to post more about the trip.

But first a note first about Jack Ma, chief executive of Alibaba, the Chinese Web site that matches buyers and sellers, and which is taking on eBay, and now that other big company search company in Mountain View.

Search engine expert John Battelle recently said Ma is a man to watch, as a central figure in China and the “nascent search/ecommerce wars,” and points us to a good piece in Forbes. We’ve heard of, and written about Ma and his company before, but we think you’ll be seeing more of this guy. We also point this out because Ma embodies the proud, upbeat character of the Chinese people that has so impressed us since arriving. More on this in a future post, but here’s a…


Ma isn’t content to dominate China’s auctions and e-mail. He wants the third point of the Internet triumvirate, too: search. The CEO depicted an almost disarmingly simple strategy: “We win eBay, buy Yahoo! and stop Google. That is for fun. Competition is for fun.”

Geography and/or geopolitics apparently loom large in Ma’s worldview. He told reporters that while Google and Yahoo! dominate Europe and the U.S., neither is in a position to rule Asia.

“I call them sharks in the ocean. We are crocodiles in the Yangtze River. If we fight in the Yangtze River, we have more chances than they have.”

Most people we’ve talked with here say the same thing about this guy. We chatted with Brian Chiang, an investor with Walden International here in Shanghai, who did not invest in Alibaba. “Jack is a rockstar,” he said. “You can’t compete with him.”

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