Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei will take on the west’s technology players and win, predicts Sorrell

Chinese technology players Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei are set to overtake the “fearsome five” of Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft in dominating the world, WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has predicted.

Speaking at Advertising Week in New York, Sorrell said that the e-commerce giant Alibaba and messaging and media firm Tencent should be taken as seriously as their western counterparts – and that Chinese companies will win the competition.

He said: “Alibaba and Tencent are the ones you really have to watch out for. I think what they will do is expand.”

Sorrell, pictured being interviewed on stage by The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta

Sorrell – whose company WPP is the world’s largest marketing communications group – revealed that just a fortnight ago he had returned from a whirlwind tour of China.

He said: “We saw 31 companies in ten days around the whole of China, getting a grip, mainly local companies.

“The west basically doesn’t want China to succeed. We – I wouldn’t put myself in that category because I don’t agree with it – but we don’t want China to succeed. We want to outcompete them, but they are going to win.”

Sorrell also pointed to mobile manufacturer Huawei as another key player.

“You visit the Huawei campus in Shenzhen. They have 200,000 people,” he told the audience.

Go to Hangzhou and look at the Alibaba campus – 15,000 people. We think they steal technology? Well they may have done a few years ago. We could have said the same thing about the Japanese, the same thing about the Hong Kong Chinese and the South Koreans.

“At any point in time they become self sufficient and my view is that they have become self sufficient. And if think the speed of internet disruption is fast here, look over there.”

“They will win the competitive battle. Tencent and Alibaba in particular – and Huawei.”

He added: “In Singapore you have a head-to-head battle now. You have Alibaba which is competing head to head with Amazon. It’s going to be very interesting to see who wins.

“They will start to penetrate the south east Asian markets, India and places like that and sweep that way, just like from a foreign policy point of view they swept that way and into Africa.”


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