Alibaba Group Holding Limited () is a Chinese multinational e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI and technology conglomerate founded in 1999 that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via Web portal, as well as electronic payment services, shopping search engines and data-centric cloud computing services. It owns and operates a diverse array of businesses around the world in numerous sectors, and is named as one of the world's most admired companies by Fortune..
At closing time on the date of its initial public offering (IPO) - the world's highest, 19 September 2014, Alibaba's market value was US$231 billion. As of January 2018, Alibaba's Market value stood at US$527 billion. It is one of the top 10 most valuable and biggest companies in the world. In January 2018, Alibaba became the second Asian company to break the US$500 billion valuation mark, after Tencent.
Alibaba is the world's largest and most valuable retailer since April 2016, with operations in over 200 countries, as well as one of the largest Internet companies. Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015. It has been expanding into the media industry, with revenues rising 3-digit percents year on year. It also orchestrated China's Singles' Day into the world's biggest online and offline shopping day, with its own sales reaching over US$25.4 billion on 11 November 2017.
In 2016, Alibaba's Taobao and Tmall, two of the world's largest and most popular online retail marketplaces, achieved a total transaction volume of 3 trillion yuan (US$478.6 billion). The company aims to double the transaction volume to 6 trillion yuan by 2020.
As of November 2017, Alibaba has over 550 million monthly active mobile users across its platforms. It also provides an online digital distribution service 9Apps, which hosts huge amount of content and applications for downloads.
Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial was ranked sixth in Fortune's Change the World list, recognised for the positive green environmental impact of its Ant Forest, the world's largest platform for tracking individuals' carbon footprints. Ant Financial and its partners have achieved considerable success in the reduction of emissions. Alibaba has also announced that it will invest 100 billion yuan over five years to build a global logistics network, underpinning an aggressive overseas expansion, and demonstrating Alibaba's commitment to building the most efficient logistic network in China and around the world. It is investing 5.3 billion yuan in Cainiao Smart Logistics Network to boost its stake to 51 percent from 47 percent. The investment would value Cainiao, a joint venture of top Chinese logistics firms, at around US$20 billion. It is also rapidly expanding its e-commerce network abroad.
Alibaba created a new live entertainment business unit under its Digital Media and Entertainment Group which focuses on ticketing, content creation and live experiences, bringing its entertainment ticketing platform Damai and its content creation and technology units MaiLive and Maizuo under one roof. It aims to provide a platform for live events (e.g. , plays, eSports and events), as well as supporting content partners and leveraging Alibaba’s data capability for offline shows. It has also entered a cooperation with JD.com to further develop China's parcel delivery efficiency, investing US$330 million into its Chinese merchandisers and logistics partners to build more facilities for delivery purposes.
One day I was in San Francisco in a coffee shop, and I was thinking Alibaba is a good name. And then a waitress came, and I said, " Do you know about Alibaba?" And she said yes. I said, " What do you know about?", and she said, " Open Sesame". And I said, " Yes, this is the name!" Then I went on to the street and found 30 people and asked them, " Do you know Alibaba?" People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China … they all knew about Alibaba. Alibaba – open sesame. Alibaba is a kind, smart business person, and he helped the village. So … easy to spell, and globally known. Alibaba opens sesame for small- to medium-sized companies. We also registered the name "Alimama", in case someone wants to marry us!" a href="http://resources.alibaba.com/topic/19446/Where_did_Alibaba_the_brand_name_come_from_.htm" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"> – The original forum post referred to in the wordlab article; it does not appear to have been posted by Alibaba staff
On 18 September 2014, Alibaba's IPO priced at US$68, raising US$21.8 billion for the company and investors. Alibaba was the biggest US IPO in history. On 19 September 2014, Alibaba's shares (BABA) began trading on the NYSE at an opening price of $92.70 at 11:55 am EST. On 22 September 2014, Alibaba's underwriters announced their confirmation that they had exercised a greenshoe option to sell 15% more shares than originally planned, boosting the total amount of the IPO to $25 billion.
In November 2007, Alibaba.com successfully listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In April 2008, Taobao established Taobao Mall (Tmall.com), a retail website, to complement its C2C marketplace. In September 2008, Alibaba Group R&D Institute was established. In December 2008, Alibaba.com Corporation announced that all Alibaba group websites will be shark finning-free on 1 January 2009.
In 2009, global growth equity firm General Atlantic invests $75M, led by the firm's head of global internet and technology sector, Anton Levy. In September 2009, Alibaba Group established Alibaba Cloud Computing in conjunction with its 10-year anniversary. In May 2010, Alibaba Group announced a plan to earmark 0.3% of its annual revenues to fund environmental protection initiatives. In October 2010, Taobao beta-launched eTao as a shopping search engine.
In June 2011, Alibaba Group reorganised Taobao into three separate companies: Taobao Marketplace, Taobao Mall (Tmall.com) and eTao. In July 2011, Alibaba Cloud Computing launched its first self-developed mobile operating system, Aliyun OS over K-Touch Cloud Smartphone. In January 2012, Tmall.com changed its Chinese name as part of a rebranding exercise. In May 2012 Alibaba Group decides to reverse course and take its publicly traded Alibaba.com private, delisting from the Hong Kong stock exchange at close to 13.50 Hong Kong dollars per share.
In September 2013, the company sought an IPO in the United States after a deal could not be reached with Hong Kong regulators. Planning took over 12 months before the company's market début in September 2014, with Reuters Instrument Code "BABA.N". The pricing of the IPO initially raised US$21.8 billion, which later increased to US$25 billion, making it the largest IPO in history. Buyers were actually purchasing shares in a Cayman Islands shell corporation, not in the Alibaba group, as China forbids foreign ownership of its companies.
In September 2013, Alibaba denies ditching HK for IPO after the Hong Kong Exchange refuses to allow the company to list shares. The company "sought to create a partnership structure that effectively would give preferential treatment to one class of shareholders over another. Hong Kong listing rules have long prohibited companies from issuing dual-class shares with different voting rights." The proposal would have allowed the company’s founder, Jack Ma and his partners to be able to nominate a majority of the members of the board and retain control of the company even if it issued new shares.
In September 2013, Embroiled in somewhat of a controversy, Alibaba Group denies abandoning Hong Kong in favor of a U.S. IPO, because of Hong Kong Exchange's refusal to allow a dual class share structure. In March 2014, Alibaba group said it will begin the process of filing for an initial public offering in the US Prior to its IPO filing on Form F-1 as a foreign issuer in the US, Alibaba undertook an aggressive acquisition spree – previously atypical for the company – acquiring numerous majority and minority stakes in companies including micro-blogging service Weibo, China Vision Holdings, and car sharing service Lyft, as well as smart remote app developer Peel Technologies. On 6 May 2014, Alibaba Group filed registration documents to go public in the US in what may be one of the biggest initial public offerings in American history. On 5 June 2014, Alibaba group agreed to take a 50 percent stake in Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club, winners of the 2013 AFC Champions League, for 1.2 billion yuan ($192 million). In June 2014, Alibaba acquired the Chinese mobile internet firm UCWeb. The price of the purchase has not been disclosed but the company did claim that the acquisition creates the biggest merger in the history of China's internet sector.
Alibaba's consumer-to-consumer portal Taobao and business-to-consumer portal Tmall, each features nearly a billion products and both are among the 20 most-visited websites globally. The Group's websites accounted for over 60% of the parcels delivered in China by March 2013, and 80% of the nation's online sales by September 2014. Alipay, an online payment escrow service, accounts for roughly half of all online payment transactions within China.
On 19 September 2014, Alibaba's shares (BABA) began trading on the NYSE. On 2 February 2015, Alibaba announces that it has acquired a $590m minority stake in the Chinese smartphone maker Meizu. On 30 March 2015, Jack Ma met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed Alibaba Group's plan to help small businesses in India. Alibaba reported sales of $14.32 billion on China's Singles Day on 11 November 2015, up 60 percent from 2014. In November 2016, the e-commerce giant Alibaba set Singles Day records and generated 120.7 billion CNY (17.79 billion USD) in gross merchandise. Alibaba entered India's e-commerce space with 25% stake in Paytm owner One97. In August 2015, Alibaba Group invested in Snapdeal.
In September 2015, Alibaba Group along with Ant Financial invested about $680 Million in the e-commerce company Paytm. On 11 December 2015, Alibaba buys South China Morning Post and other media assets of SCMP Group for US$266 million. On 31 December 2015, Alibaba buys 33 million shares of Groupon, corresponding to 5.6 per cent stake. On 2 March 2016, Alibaba struck a deal with media agency Oceans Sport and Entertainment to bring Ocean's non-gambling game Match Poker to China. In April 2016, Alibaba announced that it intended to acquire a controlling interest in the privately held Lazada Group, the "Amazon of Southeast Asia", by paying $500 million for new shares and buying $500M worth of shares from existing investors.Lulu Yilun Chen and Selina Wang for Bloomberg News. April 12, 2016 Alibaba Expands in Southeast Asia With $1 Billion Lazada Deal
On 9 June 2016, Alibaba officially unveiled the Roewe RX5, its first "internet car" in collaboration with SAIC Motor. The RX5 is available for pre-order. It is priced upwards of RMB 148,800 (US$22,300) with deliveries will be scheduled to start in August 2016. Ma believes that "in the future that 80 percent of the car's functionality won’t be related to transportation. The car will become a kind of robot you communicate with on a daily basis." In a speech in Bangkok in October 2016, Ma claimed that Alibaba Group has created more than 30 million jobs in China. In a meeting between Donald Trump and Jack Ma at the beginning of January 2017 they discussed the creation of one million jobs in the United States.USA today, Amazon to add 100,000 full-time jobs in U.S. by ’19, Friday January 13, 2017, Page B1
In May 2017, Alibaba broke the US$300 billion value mark, after Tencent achieved the feat. At the same period, Alibaba also became one of the world's top 10 most valuable companies. It reported sales growth forecast which topped every analyst's estimate, while at the same time surpassing Tencent to become Asia's most valuable company.
In August 2017, Alibaba-backed 58 Suyun will merge with Hong Kong's GoGoVan, to create an Asia-based online logistics platform. Company executives have stated that there are big plans for the merger to become a global logistics corporation.
In September 2017, Alibaba’s Ant Financial unveiled a facial recognition technology that allows a customer to pay by flashing a smile, through its Alipay services. A 3D camera located at the point-of-sale scans the customer’s face to verify their identity, there's also a phone number verification option for additional security. It also enters a partnership with Tencent on music-streaming rights sharing, the deal aims to protect licensed streaming services offering copyrighted content of the music industry, encouraging more high-quality and original music, as well as developing China’s fast-growing streaming market. Alibaba will gain the rights to stream music from international labels, which already have exclusive deals with Tencent, in return for offering reciprocal rights to its catalogue of Chinese and Japanese music. Alibaba has became the official partner of New York Fashion Week, the collaboration was done in association with one of China’s leading fashion, lifestyle and entertainment management corporations Suntchi and aims to connect international brands with Chinese consumers as well as showcasing Chinese fashion designers to the world, as China's influence on global fashion expands rapidly. Ant Financial will be forming a joint venture with Sir Li Ka-shing's CK Hutchison Holdings to bring a digital wallet service in Hong Kong.
In October 2017, the company acquired EJoy and created a gaming division to develop new games in-house to compete with Tencent. It will also be building a robotic gas station in Hangzhou by the end of the month that will be unstaffed, relying on robotic arms to fill up gas tanks. The gas station will be having a convenience store that will be void of cashiers, and customers will be utilizing Alipay at the checkout gate.
Advertising makes up 85 percent of the company's total revenue, allowing it to break even in 2009. Taobao's 2010 profit was estimated to be 1.5 billion yuan (US$235.7 million), only about 0.4 percent of their total sales figure of 400 billion yuan (US$62.9 billion) that year, way below the industry average of 2 percent, according to iResearch estimates.
According to Zhang Yu, the director of Taobao, between 2011 and 2013 the number of stores on Taobao with annual sales under 100 thousand yuan increased by 60%; the number of stores with sales between 10 thousand and 1 million yuan increased by 30%; and the number of stores with sales over 1 million yuan increased by 33%.
Also, there are other parts of Taobao. Tmall.com was introduced in April 2008 as an online retail platform to complement the Taobao consumer-to-consumer portal and became a separate business in June 2011. As of October 2013 it was the eighth most visited web site in China, offering global brands to an increasingly affluent Chinese consumer base. In addition, there is Juhuasuan, a group shopping website in China. It was launched by Taobao in March 2010 and became a separate business in October 2011. Juhuasuan offers "flash sales", products that are available only for a fixed time period, which can last from one or two days to a full month. To buy at the discounted price, buyers must purchase the item within that defined time. Plus, Taobao launched a service known as eTao. eTao was beta-launched by Taobao in October 2010 as a comparison shopping website, and became a separate business in June 2011. It offers search results from most Chinese online shopping platforms, including product searches, sales and coupon searches. Online shoppers can use the site to compare prices from different sellers and identify products to buy. According to the Alibaba Group web site, eTao offers products from Amazon China, Dangdang, Gome, Yihaodian, Nike China and Vancl, as well as Taobao and Tmall.
On 11 June 2014, Alibaba launched US shopping site 11 Main. The 11 Main marketplace hosts more than 1,000 merchants in categories such as clothing, fashion accessories and jewellery as well as interior goods and arts and crafts and it plans to keep adding more, said the company. On 23 June 2015, Alibaba announced that it is selling 11 Main to OpenSky, an online-marketplace operator based in New York.
Alisports secured exclusive title sponsorship of the FIFA Club World Cup from 2015 to 2022. The company announced a Champion of Champions rugby sevens tournament in 2017, to be played in Shanghai for the highest prize money ever offered in the sport.
As the Economist noted, the company's response has conflicting components: Alibaba's promulgated view that its corrective actions indicate its commitment to quality and integrity (where it contrasts itself with other scandal-associated Chinese business sectors), versus a damage control view suggesting that the subscription-driven, third-party verified "China Gold Supplier" program was endangered by diminished trust in its endorsement system, removing the incentive for global buyers to choose Alibaba as their business-to-business service, thus more broadly endangering Alibaba through impact on its brand and capabilities (the latter via the "defenestration of senior people"). The scandal is said to have placed the head of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma—who is described as having been furious over the scandal—in a position to personally fight to win back trust.
AliExpress is even more controversial: despite claiming to provide buyer protection, it frequently refuses to reimburse customers when goods are seized by customs or when sellers who establish fake business entities vanish after their scam. Several hundred lawsuits and class actions have been filed in the US.
Alibaba denied wrongdoing and started timid action against counterfeiters with only 2 lawsuits filed as of January 4, 2017, but brands suffering from the counterfeit products continue to blame Alibaba for not doing what it takes to fight the issue.