The heads of China’s two leading e-commerce conglomerates are in the midst of a very public exchange of criticism as the two spar for their share of the world’s largest market of Internet users.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma launched the feud with rival JD.com in an interview with the authors of a new book on his company; Ma’s comments, which have since been widely publicized, criticized JD as a firm headed for collapse. “The direction JD is going is not right,” he said. “There is nothing anyone can do about it. So I tell people at the company, definitely don’t get involved with JD. Don’t come blaming us if you die one day.”
The executive was quick to clarify the remarks as being taken out of context during a private, off-the-record conversation, but JD head Richard Liu responded with his own affront, stating that while Ma was busy criticizing the company, JD was focused on improving customer service.
According to reports, however, Ma may be right in his predictions of a JD demise. JD.com holds about 45 million active customers, just a small portion compared to Alibaba’s more than 300 million. JD.com similarly lacks behind its top rival in mobile commerce and revenue states.
But what seems like a huge lag behind Alibaba could be attributed to JD’s focus on building its assets; the company is in the midst of building its own logistics network, a venture financial experts say will cause a negative profitability for the next few years.
And not all of JD’s recent performance stats have been disappointing. The company recently struck a deal with Internet investment firm Tencent, leading to a 500 percent growth in mobile orders for the e-commerce firm.