Open Sesame! That’s the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the word “Alibaba”.
Interestingly, that’s what Alibaba Group does, opening up “caves” and granting access to “hidden treasures”. By the way, the first time the cave opened up was in a coffee shop in San Francisco and the treasures are still, till date, inexhaustible. It was in San Fran that the idea of Alibaba was conceived.
In case you did not know, there’s Alimama too, so it’s already a family of treasures!
What is Alibaba all about?
Alibaba, established by a Jack Ma led team in 1999 with its headquarters in Hangzhou, China, is China’s largest online shopping conglomerate with a market value of over $440 billion. It operates in more than 200 countries. Alibaba Group has a variety of companies and subsidiaries that provide services that include e-commerce and retails, cloud computing and artificial intelligence, financial technology and online payment processing platforms, entertainment services, and a host of others such as healthcare, mobile technology, etc.
Alibaba Customers and Userbase
Alibaba is featured in the list of top 10 biggest and most valuable companies, as well as the world’s largest retailer. It is estimated that about 515 million consumers shop on Alibaba, with about 12 million packages shipped by Alibaba to consumers on a daily basis and up to 580 million mobile consumers actively engaging Alibaba monthly. In fact, in recent times, Alibaba made more revenue from cloud tech than the American giants Amazon, Google and Microsoft combined.
In terms of active users of the various Alibaba services, consumers grew from about 200 million in 2013 to 470 million in 2017, attesting to Alibaba’s all-round excellence and quality service delivery. Majority of the active users are from the United States, with only China registering more users on the Alibaba platforms than the United States. Other countries with high user engagement include India, Japan and the United Kingdom.
An average user visits at least four pages on the Alibaba website and each of these visits lasts over 4 minutes.
Alibaba Acquisitions and Investments
Alibaba Group has over the years since establishment expanded both by launching companies and services like AliExpress and Taobao, as well as making big acquisitions. Some of the companies and services launched by Alibaba include:
- AliWangWang Instant Messenger (2004)
- Alimama Online Technology Services (2007)
- Juhusuan Sales and Marketing Channel (2010)
- Alibaba Smart TV Operating System (2013)
- Alibaba Music Group (2015)
- OS’Car Mass produced internet car (2016)
Big acquisitions made by Alibaba include:
- HiChina, an internet web solutions and application service provider in 2009
- One-Touch, an import and export service provider in 2010
- Shares in Yahoo! to form Yahoo! China, a portal that provides internet services like news, email, and search in China (2012)
- UCWeb, a provider of mobile internet software tech and services in an acquisition reported to have created the biggest merger in the history of China’s internet sector (2014)
- A 60% stake in ChinaVision Holdings, an investment holding company in 2014
- Investment in Lyft, a US car sharing service (2014)
Some of Alibaba’s investments include:
- Alibaba Foundation (2011)
- AutoNavi, a Chinese provider of digital map content and navigation solutions (2014)
- A joint $680 Million investment with Ant Financial in the Indian e-commerce company Paytm (2015)
- A 5.6% stake purchase in Groupon, an American e-commerce marketplace that connects its subscribers with local merchant services in over 14 countries (2015)
- A $2.9 billion investment in Sun Art Retail, China’s leading grocer, marking a push into offline retail (2017)
The Alibaba Workforce
A natural consequence of the expansion of the Alibaba Group is an increase in the number of its employees. The number has steadily grown from about 22,000 globally in 2012 and stood at above 50,000 at the end of 2017, an increase of more than 100% in half a decade. These workers are distributed across Alibaba’s Admin offices, R&D, Sales and Marketing, Operations and Customer Service.
Alibaba is often called the “Amazon of the East”, but you get the feeling that before long, it’s definitely going to need a new designation.
Author: Karthik Reddy, Community Manager at websitebuilder.org, is the author of India’s Number 1 travel blog. Having an MBA in computer science he once decided to get away from the office desk life and take the breathtaking journey of traveling the world. He is eager to use the sociability of the web to inspire others. A passionate traveler and photography enthusiast he aspires to share his experiences and help people see the world through his lens.