Alibaba: Competing in China & Beyond

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR288
Case Length : 23 Pages
Period : 1999-2008
Pub Date : 2008
Teaching Note : Available
Organization :
Industry : Internet and E-Commerce
Themes: Competition | Innovation | Growth Strategy | Emerging Markets
Countries : China

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Background Note

Jack Ma (Ma), the founder of Alibaba, was born in Hangzhou, a city in China's Zhejiang province, in 1964. At the age of twelve, Ma developed a fascination for the English language. He began learning English by listening to the Voice of America and acting as a free guide to foreigners who visited Hangzhou...

Alibaba in its Initial Years

In 1998, Ma left MOFTEC and returned to Hangzhou to fulfill his dream of establishing his own e-commerce company. He said, "I realized that you can never expect a government company to grow. So I left to set up my own."...

Business Portfolio

Despite its struggles, by the year 2000, the Alibaba Group had emerged as the largest e-commerce company in China and was one of the leading players in the international e-commerce market...

Business Strategy | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Strategy, Case Studies

The Competition

B2B Market
Alibaba was launched at a time when the Chinese Internet industry was in its infancy. Considering the growth potential of the budding e-commerce market, other players like Global Sources and MeetChina were launched in 1999. These players were expected to intensify competition in the emerging B2B market...

The Much Awaited IPO

In October 2007, Alibaba went public on the Hong Kong stock exchange by launching an IPO. The IPO was arranged (underwritten) by Deutsche Bank AG (Deutsche Bank), Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley (Morgan Stanley)...


China was well poised to unseat the US as the country with the largest number of Internet users in the first few months of 2008. The growing Internet user base in China had thrown up good opportunities for Internet companies...


Exhibit I: World's Most Innovative Companies
Exhibit II: Internet Market in China
Exhibit III: Types of Membership at Alibaba.Com
Exhibit IV: e-Commerce Market in China
Exhibit V: Growing Internet Usage in China
Exhibit VI: Country/Region Wise Business on's International Site

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