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Story of Alibaba.Com, World's Largest B2B Marketplace

Contributed by: Anonymous
July 21, 2021


Success story of Alibaba starts with its founder Ma Yun a.k.a. Jack Ma. Jack Ma was born in lower middle-class family in Hangzhou district in China and during and after his Bachelor's degree, Jack tried and failed to get a job at a multitude of places. After spending three years to get into a University, Jack failed to land a job after applying to them 30 times! He recollects in his interview, "When KFC came to China, 24 people went for the job. Twenty-three people were accepted. I was the only guy who wasn't."

Also, on his Entrepreneurial undertakings, Jack Ma went on to fail on two of his initial ventures. But that didn’t stop him in any way of dreaming bigger. During his visit to US in 1995, he got introduced to internet and computers for the first time and it was that time, he decided to venture into E-commerce from China where it was almost non-existent at that time.


In 1999, after having left his last government job, Ma gathered a group of 17 of his friends and pitched the idea of an online marketplace for small and medium-sized businesses. To secure funding for this venture, Ma travelled to the US once again, this time to Silicon Valley to pitch his idea. But he faced a familiar obstacle as his idea was rejected and criticized as being unprofitable and unsustainable. Through persistence, Ma was eventually able to secure funding of $US 5 million from Goldman Sachs and $US 20 million from Softbank. The company started from his apartment in Hangzhou and with two websites Alibaba.com (B2B marketplace) and 1688.com (B2C marketplace).


Within 3 years of launch, Alibaba has crossed 1 million users and getting positive in their cash flow. But soon after two years, in 2003, they had to face to deadly SARS epidemic and strong economic crisis. But under the leadership of Jack Ma, the company stood strong and even found new business opportunities to launch another marketplace, Taobao. 2004 was a remarkable year for Alibaba when they raised their second round of investment of $US 82 million from various first-tier investors in the Internet sector. Also, in this year, the company took two major steps. It introduced Aliwangwang, an instant messaging tool, for the website of Taobao Marketplace. Also, Alipay, a third-party payment solution associated with Alibaba came up.

In 2005, Alibaba came up in a partnership with Yahoo and took control of the China Yahoo operations. In the year next, the setup for the public offering of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Main Board was complete & Alimama was launched which is an online platform for marketing technology. In 2008, Alibaba launched the famous Tmall and also came up with their first cloud. Within 2 years, they launched AliExpress that helped various Chinese exporters to deal with the worldwide consumers directly. In May’2010, Alibaba stated that it will spend about 0.3% of its total revenue on environmental awareness and also its conservation across the world.


After 14 years of launch, Jack Ma stepped down as CEO of Alibaba in 2013. He is succeeded by Jonathan Lu, Ma's hand-picked successor. In 2014, Alibaba grows to become the largest online commerce platform for small businesses. The same year the company goes public, with a $25 billion IPO and a new trading price of $68 per-share -- beating big technology stalwarts like Facebook (FB) and Google. By 2019, Jack Ma makes good on his pledge to walk away from Alibaba. He does so in September 2019 and is succeeded by Daniel Zhang, now the current chief executive officer at Alibaba.

By this time, Alibaba was smashing new e-commerce records. Its mobile user base had grown to 1.1 billion while revenues had grown by 42%. The site now boasts 674 million active monthly users and represents (as of year-end 2018) 60% of the entire Chinese e-commerce market. Jack Ma is now officially the richest man in China with an estimated net worth of $US 25 billion. Alibaba is worth more than Facebook and process goods more than eBay and Amazon combined.