Forty Thieves are lost in the current cave Alibaba. Because of the XXI century has little to do with what was described in the classic story of The Thousand and One Nights. It is not located in the Middle East, but in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, the capital of the coastal province of Zhejiang, and does not hide the treasures of some rustlers, but something more valuable in case: the heart of Alibaba, the largest e-commerce company the world’s most populous country. In fact, this is an impressive complex of futuristic buildings whose secrets are revealed even shouting ‘open sesame!’.
Visitors have to settle for a quick look at the horizon stares computer screen and marvel at the giant screens on which are reflected in real-time, the millions of international transactions carried out by the only company capable to overshadow Amazon. Not surprisingly, a detailed study by Euromonitor International concludes that the main goal of Alibaba, Tmall, revenues to exceed U.S. multinational next year to become the largest B2C-virtual-world market year. Collectively, the group has nearly 25,000 employees and a portfolio of close to 800 million products that provides, similar to Facebook revenue, but with profits doubles those of the social network.
It seems logical that there behemoth behind such a genius with ambition. Nope. The head of all that is Lu Zhaoxi, a man of 44 years, discreet and apparently somewhat clueless, who forgot to fill a page in his application for admission to the school of architecture and which, because of this oversight, ultimately studying management of hotels. Lu was released in the workplace as a receptionist at a Holiday Inn property in his hometown, the manufacturing center of Guangzhou. That’s a story he likes to stress to show his worth in the few interviews he granted. It makes clear that it is a self-made man without the aid of contacts or the support of a wealthy family.
Its decisive character is what caught the attention of foreign guests, when Lu had already been six years in the hotel, offered him work in a company that went bankrupt Internet fax shortly after. ‘There I discovered the potential of the Internet, so I decided to open my own company with some friends online to learn more telecommunications sector’, Lu recalled in a conversation with the Shanghai Business Daily. That decision changed his life, because Ma Yun, entrepreneurial visionary who founded Alibaba in 1999 from her living room, noticed him and decided to buy the company a few months later. Thus, it became it in employee number 129 of Ma,
Gradually, the employment relationship that began in 2000 entered the field staff, and Lu was ascending in the growing Chinese e-commerce empire: first he was responsible for sales in the southern region; then, in 2004, Alipay launched a successful payment system that has already spread throughout China; four years later began in Taobao, the branch customer to customer (C2C) has changed consumption habits of Chinese youth and whose sales have increased eightfold since he took over in 2010; finally, in 2012 took over the design Aliyun, the operating system group, and last year he devised Wetao, microblogging service to vendors and customers. Thus, in the shade, Lu has been the tireless worker who has made the dream of Ma: Alibaba converts the sum-Taobao, eBay, Amazon, PayPal Tmall-and-Alipay.
Of course, those who know them both say they are like day and night. Ma does not bite his tongue and boasts an outspoken and controversial character; Lu prefers to work without attracting attention, something that critics interpreted as a consequence of a gray character. ‘The 90% of the time is Ma who speaks, and at the end I say’ yes’, recognizes Lu. ‘But compenetramos us perfectly, because he focuses on the design of the strategy for the future while I’m on this’, adds the director, his career culminating in May last year when Ma handed control Alibaba in one of the most controversial decisions of the company.
56.3% of respondents to a survey then by the news portal Ifeng felt that his appointment was they wrong, and most admitted not having heard of Lu. There were also those who reported their failure to criticize his rise to CEO position, now perceived by some 5.6 million per year. The most repeated example was Laiwang, a mobile application that sought to compete with the leader WeChat, Chinese equivalent of WhatsApp, which nobody uses. ‘Mistakes like me because they stimulate my potential “Lu said in a conversation with Bloomberg. ‘The pressure is very high, because there is much to do to win the battle of e-commerce, never let up because it is a very big cake.’
And they are still bigger expectations of Lu for Alibaba. It aims to triple its current transaction volume in 2016 to surpass the U.S. giant WalMart as the largest network of retail outlets in the world. And it is hoped that next year the branch Tmall already achieved revenues of 120.000 million, 20,000 more than Amazon million. Furthermore, it seems that he shall have to prepare the company for release before the end Bag 2015, required to make a capital increase of about 13,000 million euros and convert Alibaba’s second largest company step Internet, and only surpassed by Google.