December 9, 2015
Is Alibaba Getting Even Bigger?
When it comes to business success, bigger and more is almost always better. Particularly when you can take something struggling and turn it into a winner … or better still, take a winner and turn it into an untouchable dynasty. That’s exactly what Alibaba founder Jack Ma is hoping to accomplish on the heels of his company’s takeover bid of the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English only daily newspaper.
If the deal goes through, Ma will be added to an ever growing list of Internet tycoons turning to print media in search of profit. Not that long ago – back in 2013 – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos came out of his own pocket to purchase the Washington Post. In 2012, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes bought a majority stake in the New Republic.
It’s more than just an investment in a huge media brand. These guys are making a statement about the profit potential of print media.
And it’s coming at a time of continued upheaval at storied print brands. SCMP is no exception. At the end of the year, current South China Morning Post editor-in-chief, Wang Xiangwei, will be moving on. Wang’s deputy, Tammy Tam, will step into his shoes, according to a company announcement.
While the reason has not been given, SCMP has experienced some of the same downturns as its international competitors – loss of revenue and decreasing circulation.
Like Bezos, Ma believes he has the magic touch to turn that situation around … even without increasing demand.
Of course, some market watchers are concerned that, like Bezos, Ma is a monopoly guy, that he has a long game that includes control of all major media in every market. Recently, his firm bought Youku Tudou, basically Chinese YouTube, adding this brand to Alibaba’s unequaled stable of Internet properties.
In an age where Old and Stable is losing traction to New and Omnipresent, a good manager understands how to get the most out of both. Ma is betting he has the right stuff.