So when Ma said earlier this week his e-commerce company would conduct $1 trillion in transactions, it was no surprise that his comments turned heads among close observers of Internet commerce. But when Ma speaks, he often means what he says, which is why his trillion-dollar forecast also didn't surprise some e-commerce watchers.
"They're really not that far from that goal," said Gil Lauria, who covers Alibaba for Wedbush Securities. "They're growing at more than 40% and their going to double that within a year and a half, so, no, it's not crazy that they could hit that trillion-dollar mark by about 2019."
Ma made his comments on Alibaba's prospects at a meeting of the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday. For its most recent fiscal year, which ended in March, Alibaba said the gross merchandise volume of all the goods it sold reached $394 billion, a 46% increase from the prior year. That's more than the gross merchandise volume of eBay (EBAY) and Amazon.com (AMZN) combined in their 2014 fiscal years.
While the Chinese e-commerce market remains Alibaba's key source for growth, the company wants to turn on its head the trade that has China making millions of products for sale in the U.S. and other Western markets. Ma has said he wants to bring more American products into China and plans on adding 10 million small businesses to its e-commerce platform in the next two years to facilitate cross-border e-commerce with China.