Ma prefers to frame his company as another option for small business merchants, not necessarily an alternative to the established US players.
"We already started helping a lot of small business in the US in California, in Washington," he said during the Bloomberg interview. "And still we sell American cherries and we're selling a lot of seafood. And we want to sell more things. We are coming here not to compete. We're coming here to help a lot of small business, which I think a lot of things may need to be done. It's not of a competition."
Established in 1999, Alibaba has become a leader in e-commerce with a hyper-growth rate trumping its better-known US competitors. The company's revenue rose 66 percent in its fourth quarter of 2013. In contrast, Amazon's revenue rose 22 percent, while eBay's climbed 14 percent.
Alibaba owns and operates a handful of e-commerce related businesses. Most notable are Taobao, a consumer-to-consumer marketplace similar to eBay, and TMall, a shopping hub for brands like Apple and Gap to sell directly to customers. The company also runs Juhuasuan.com, a daily-deals site and Aliyun.com, a cloud-computing service. In the US, Alibaba recently launched 11 Main, an invite-only boutique shopping site.
The Chinese company's current business model is actually different from Amazon's. Alibaba doesn't sell any products itself. Instead it makes money off advertisements and commissions. It's not clear if Alibaba will change its tactics for the US market, but Amazon would be a worthy partner as well as a competitor.