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The first in-depth look at the multibillion-dollar company Alibaba.com—known to many as "China's eBay"—and the inspirational story behind the man who created it.
A bestseller in China and now translated into English and updated with recent events, Alibaba by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery tells the remarkable story behind the Internet phenomenon Alibaba.com and its founder Jack Ma, a man Barron's named one of the World's Top 30 CEOs in 2008. Ma's rise to prominence presents a riveting story: Despite growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution—in a period of total state control of the economy—he developed the keen entrepreneurial instincts that propelled him to billionaire status and enabled him to build a company outside the usual government channels. These instincts and habits incorporated martial arts training and allowed him to recognize, early on, that the Internet could leverage his company to rapid growth and also transform the way business is done around the world.
Alibaba.com, where businesses can buy and sell everything from air beds to zippers, started with a modest initial investment of $60,000 and has grown exponentially since its founding in 1999 to become the world's biggest business-to-business Web site. In 2007 it became the second largest IPO in history (after Google), and Fast Company has named it one of the world's most innovative companies. As a result, smart investors and technology insiders will be keeping a close eye on Alibaba for years to come. Whether you're seeking to understand China's meteoric rise, or just searching for the next Google, Yahoo!, or Amazon, Alibaba is crucial reading.
clearly, during the Cultural Revolution, injustice surrounded him pervasively. Too, he was determined to work for ideals: perhaps because of the inﬂuence of wu xia novels, he was fully convinced of the power of right-minded dreams. “Men are made bigger by adversity and injustice” is one of Ma’s favorite sayings. Ma was in a difﬁcult position at home, since his parents were understandably trying to escape criticism and keep a low proﬁle. When Jack came home bloody after another Put Up Your
this gold-panning idea. Work had begun around the time of the SARS crisis in the spring of 2003 and had continued offsite, unknown to all but a few in the company. Corporate cohesion and a degree of secrecy unknown to most organizations in China is one of Jack Ma’s strengths. He considers organizational structure to be a part of the company’s technology and its reason for success. Employees are required to maintain strict conﬁdentiality about organizational structure. “Our structure is our core
would have been foolhardy. From today’s perspective, however, eBay seems to have been all but chased out of China, and Jack Ma can sit back and smile. 134 In December 2006, eBay bowed to the reality of its diminished role in China and announced a joint venture with the TOM Group to carry forward operations. The TOM Group is one of the leading Chinese-language media groups in the greater China region and is controlled by the tycoon Li Ka-shing. According to the ofﬁcial press release regarding
Internet, using something called a Yahoo! Pass. Each holder of a Yahoo! Pass ID was allowed to cast ten votes a day. We will not follow the course of this contest any farther—sufﬁce it to say it was an ingenious way to encourage more trafﬁc on Yahoo! chapter 8 How Can You See the Rainbow if You Don’t Go Out in the Rain? N obody goes out in the rain without getting a little bit wet. As Bill Gates always says of Microsoft, “We expect to get sued. That’s just part of the business.” Alibaba found
Darkest Before Dawn 23 China did not have a regular system for licensing ISPs in 1995. The Ministry of Information Industries, or MII, was established only in 1998 to serve as an impartial regulatory agency, under which was placed the former monopoly power of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. The MII was authorized to review, approve, and grant licenses for ISPs later that year. In late 1999, its director at the time, Wu Jichuan, noted that regulation of ISPs would be under the