The Remarkable Story of How Alibaba Defeated eBay In China
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Stories
Jillian D'Onfro writes:
Alibaba, the enormous Chinese e-commerce company, is about to file for an IPO in the U.S.
But one of the most crucial time periods in the company's history came in the early 2000s, when the still-new Alibaba battled out with the behemoth eBay to gain e-commerce dominance in China.
Porter Erisman, in his incredible documentary "Crocodile in the Yangtze," captures the thrilling rise of the company through real footage and photos. Erisman worked there throughout its critical years (though he had left the company by the time he started making the documentary).
The entire film, which will be released at the end of May, is entertaining, suspenseful, and more than worth a watch. Until then, Erisman has given us permission to use scenes from his film to tell Alibaba's story, as he saw it through his own eyes.
I find Alibaba's story inspiring, and I find Alibaba fascinating.
Best part of the story for me:
When the NASDAQ crashed in 2000, Alibaba hadn't made any revenue yet and was burning through cash. Ma decided to close the U.S. office, laying off dozens of employees.
In 2001, Alibaba had to lay off the rest of its international staff, too.
Humbled, Alibaba hired a COO and doubled down on its mission and values.
Ma realized that people would pay hefty sums to have their product listings appear higher in search and launched a paid service.
Alibaba went on a roadshow, convincing business owners all over China to start using the Internet.
By the end of the year, more than five years after launch, Alibaba officially became profitable. Employees celebrated by going crazy with Silly String.
Here are some facts about Alibaba that illustrate just how powerful it really is:
- 24,000 people work for Alibaba. That's more employees than Yahoo and Facebook have combined.
- Yahoo's entire market value is tied to Alibaba. Yahoo currently owns 24% of Alibaba (though it's predicted to sell back 10% of that stock when the company IPO's.) Yahoo's stake in Alibaba is worth $37 billion. Yahoo's market cap is $39.5 billion.
- In 2012, two of Alibaba’s websites handled $170 billion in sales. That's more than competitors eBay and Amazon combined.