Alibaba in 2011: Competing in China & Beyond

Alibaba in 2011: Competing in China & Beyond
Case Code: BSTR404
Case Length: 23 Pages
Period: 2004-2011
Pub Date: 2012
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Alibaba Group
Industry: E-Commerce
Countries: China; Global
Themes: International Business, International Management
Alibaba in 2011: Competing in China & Beyond
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This case discusses the success of Corporation (Alibaba) in China under the leadership of Jack Ma (Ma), its founder. It talks about the transformation of Alibaba into one of the most successful e-commerce companies in China and also analyzes its business portfolio. The case explains in detail the rationale behind Ma starting an e-commerce website and his efforts to bring about the growth of the company. Alibaba had emerged as the largest e-commerce company in China. The company tailored its strategies to meet the needs of the customers and made a mark because of its understanding of the Chinese language and culture. However, some experts also raised doubts over the sustainability of Alibaba's business model.

In 2011, the company was also making efforts to increase its dominance in the Chinese web search market. In August 2011, it acquired, search engine of Chinese online portal, and in October 2011, it launched an online shopping site eTao to combat with Baidu. In December 2011, Alibaba announced that it was testing a social-networking product. This was part of its efforts to expand outside its e-commerce platforms to seek different streams of revenue, according to industry observers. The company was also planning to acquire Yahoo! China's stake of 40 percent in Alibaba. Experts felt that all these initiatives would help Alibaba gain a stronger foothold in China since Internet penetration and e-commerce were rapidly growing in China.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Understand the issues and challenges faced by a Chinese e-commerce company in growing its business
  • Study Alibaba's business model and see whether it is sustainable
  • Study how Alibaba achieved a balance in catering to global customers while customizing its practices to suit the needs of its Chinese consumers
  • Understand how e-commerce companies operate in emerging markets
  • Examine the challenges faced by Alibaba in expanding its business globally



Competition, Strategy, Business model, Innovation, Entrepreneur, Market leader, Global expansion, e-commerce, Small and Medium Enterprises, B2B, B2C, C2C, Web search market, Initial Public Offering , Alibaba, Taobao, eBay, Baidu, Google, China

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