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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"Alibaba has a first-mover advantage that makes it very hard for competitors to chip away at their lead in the market."1

- Dick Wei, Analyst, J.P. Morgan Securities Inc.,2 in 2007.

"For us, the goal has been to build a company that lasts 102 years and a company that changes China. We're only six years old, so while other people may call us a success, we still do not consider ourselves successful yet. We have a long way to go and the intense competition is what keeps us sharp. The success we've had so far has not made us lose our edge."3

- Jack Ma, Founder and CEO of, in 2006.

"If there's a company outside of America that can introduce a new business model to the world, it's Alibaba."4

- Masayoshi Son, Founder and CEO, Softbank Corporation5, Japan, in 2005.


In February 2008, Corporation (Alibaba), China's leading e-commerce company, was ranked 8th in the World's Most Innovative Companies list by Fast Company6 Magazine, a US-based business publication7 (Refer to Exhibit I for a list of World's most innovative companies).

Alibaba was recognized for its simple website that provided easy-to-use features connecting buyers and suppliers all over the world.

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1] Bei Hu and John Liu, " Offers $1.3 Billion Share Sale,", October 15, 2007.
2] J.P. Morgan Securities Inc., New York City, New York, USA is the non-banking subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase. It focuses on activities related to investment banking.
3] Chua Chin Hon, "Yahoo! Jack Wants it to be No.1 in China,", April 28, 2006.
4] "Meet Jack Ma, Who Will Guide Yahoo in China,", August 12, 2005.
5] Softbank Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, is a leading Japanese telecommunications and media company. It has investments in e-commerce, financial services, Internet infrastructure, IT-related distribution services, publishing and marketing, and technology services.
6] Fast Company is a monthly magazine that reports on innovation, digital media, technology, change management, leadership, design, and social responsibility.
7] " Named One of the World's Most Innovative Companies,", February 21, 2008.

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