Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, is reportedly the first to have launched a commercial website in China. In September 1995 Chinapages.com, a directory of companies, goes online and within ten years Ma grows it in one of the most successful Internet companies of China. In Beijing’s Shangri-La’s Kerry Centre Hotel I interviewed Porter Erisman, Vice President of Alibaba, to hear the story behind this success. Porter, who has been with Alibaba since 2000, was hired after Alibaba had raised $25 million from several big VCs and its 18 founders, led by Jack Ma, decided to hire foreign experts to come in and help the company globalize. Attracting foreigners to run the company was important since according to Porter during that time people in China had very little management experience. Alibaba could not have decided to join the scene on a better time. Its model smartly anticipated on the market situation; around 2000 the Internet penetration in China just started to become significant and also the total export volume was growing vastly. As the manufacturer of the world an increasing ammount low-cost producers and suppliers were entering the marketplace in China (and other South-East Asian developing countries) while buyers from all over the world lined up to profit from the low wages.

The Uprising
Alibaba has been very successful in the Chinese domestic market. To begin with in 2003 Alibaba launched Taobao, now the largest online shopping marketplace for consumers in China with more than 80 million registered users. After Taobao was established it did not take long before in 2005 Taobao overtook its U.S. rival eBay, the previous market leader in the consumer-to-consumer market in China. Furthermore Alibaba has launched Alimama, China’s largest online advertising exchange platform, and Alipay, China’s leading online payment service. In 2005 Yahoo! handed over the running of its China operations to Alibaba in a transaction whereby Yahoo! Inc. paid $1 billion for a 40 percent share of Alibaba.

Start your free trial now.

Get instant access to all our premium content, archives, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Yearly Membership

What you get

Full access to all premium content and our full archives

Members'-only newsletters

Preferential access and discounts to all TechNode events

Direct access to the TechNode newsroom

Start your free trial now.

Get instant access to all our premium content, archives, newsletters, and online community.

Monthly Membership

Yearly Membership