Alibaba, in just fifteen years, has grown from a partnership of eighteen friends operating out of a cramped apartment in the Chinese city of Hangzhou into a multibillion dollar Internet colossus with 25,000 employees, hundreds of millions of registered users, and a market capitalization of more than $260 billion—larger than that of Amazon, eBay, Twitter, and PayPal combined.
This is a company that, until recently, few outside China had even heard of. A couple of years ago, a Google search for 'Alibaba' would have been more likely to produce references to Forty Thieves and One Thousand and One Nights than to China and on-line commerce. That changed in a big way on September 19, 2014 when, on Alibaba’s first day of trading, the value of its shares offered on the New York Stock Exchange shot up 38 percent to $25 billion, setting a new record for biggest initial public offering of all time. In the months since, Alibaba, has become one of the market’s best-known companies and has repeatedly closed among the world’s ten most valuable companies as measured daily by market capitalization. At the time of writing, Alibaba is more valuable than such recognized institutions as General Motors, General Electric, IBM, and Oracle, and a Google search for 'Alibaba' now yields seven pages of references to the Chinese company before turning up any mention of the Persian folktale.
Alibaba is destined to join the pantheon of truly iconic Internet startups that now includes Google, Amazon, and Facebook, and Alibaba’s name will soon be as well known to global consumers as it already is to investors. The story of Alibaba’s rise is one of the great business narratives of our time. And it’s a story that, until now, no author has fully told...
Clay Chandler is a Hong Kong-based author, commentator and former McKinsey consultant with more than two decades' experience living and working in Asia. Drawing on his deep knowledge of the region's 'big three' economies, China, Japan and India, as well as emerging markets in Southeast Asia, he has led several influential publishing projects that have helped to shape global perceptions of Asia's challenges and opportunities. In 2014, after five years with McKinsey, Clay founded The Barrenrock Group, an independent consultancy specializing in investment research, communication strategy, content development and media industry advisory work. Barrenrock serves a limited number of large multinational clients by providing distinctive insight and analysis, and helping senior executives frame their ideas, sharpen their message, and establish authentic connections with stakeholders.