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What is Alibaba?


 
When Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, goes public in New York it could be one of the largest IPOs in the United States ever. Alibaba is an online market place where mostly Chinese companies and some Western companies sell their products to customers and other businesses.
Jack Maw founded the company in 1999 in this small apartment with 17 others.
(In Chinese) Americans are strong at hardware and systems but on information and software, Chinese brains are just as good as theirs. All of our brains are as good as theirs. This is the reason we dare to compete with Americans.
The former English teacher saw Silicon Valley as his inspiration and his competition.
(In Chinese) We need to learn the hard-working spirit of Silicon Valley. If we got to work at 8 a.m. and go home at 5 p.m., this is not a high-tech company and Alibaba will never be successful.
In 2005 Yahoo bought a 40 percent stake in the company. Alibaba was tiny then but now its IPO could value the company at more than 200 billion dollars. That’s more than the market value of facebook, Amazon, or eBay.
(In Chinese) The ignorant are not afraid. There were three reasons behind our success. They were very valid points. First, we had no money. Second, we didn’t understand technology. Third, we never planned.
A clear sign of how far the company has come came in November of 2013. It was Singles Day: a sort of anti-Valentine’s day for China’s unattached and one of the country’s busiest shopping days.
At Alibaba’s headquarters, employees watched a live tally of sales. By the end of the day a third of China’s adult population had visited its sites. And 5.7 billion dollars of goods were sold. Alibaba had broken every sales record for a single day of shopping.
And with one of the largest IPOs ever anticipated in the United States, Alibaba is today not only competing with Silicon Valley but it has surpassed some of its giants.
(In Chinese) I often tell our team we knew we had a future. But I never thought it would be this big. It far exceeded what I had imagined.

Source: nytimes

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