Alibaba (NYSE:BABA), the large Chinese e-commerce business that has a valuation of $168 billion, wants to serve 2 billion customers. To achieve this, Alibaba will have to build its own NASA, says the Founder and Executive Chairman, Jack Ma. He said this recently while speaking at the company’s inaugural tech summit in Hangzhou.
The NASA Project of Alibaba
Speaking to 5,000 engineers and thousands of staff who participated through live stream, Ma said Alibaba will soon create independent research and development teams that will work on core competencies to support the goal of serving more than two billion customers from around the globe. Ma called this the “NASA Project”, saying these teams will work on biometric identification, the Internet of Things, chips, and machine learning, among others.
Jack Ma said, “An economy that serves two billion people must be backed by solid technological capacity. To shoulder the future responsibility, we will build Alibaba’s own NASA. We will establish new teams to develop the core technologies of machine learning, chips, the Internet of Things, operating systems, and biometric identification”.
Ma hopes Alibaba will be able to come up with technological breakthroughs that will help the whole of humanity, and not just business, like what NASA does. The Alibaba Chairman is a big-time admirer of National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Alibaba Is Investing Money in Technology Already
In fact, Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) has been working on many artificial intelligence software products for a while now to provide personalized recommendations for shoppers on their Tmall and Taobao online marketplaces. They also have a cloud computing unit, which is called Alibaba Cloud. The Cloud’s Apsara operating system brings together the processing power of millions of servers into a big computational engine.
The cloud computing business is already doing well financially. In the last quarter of 2016, it earned revenue of $254 million or 1.76 billion yuan, which is 115 percent.
Other Chinese businesses too such as Baidu and Tencent are investing big money in technological development. They are also seeking additional funds to build their technological capacity.
CPPCC or the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and NPC or the National People’s Congress is urging the government to increase investments and develop artificial intelligence technologies. A member of both these committees, Liu Dingding feels China will soon be the world leader in breakthrough technologies.