@Brunning on the Web – On Alibaba 

by | Sep 18, 2014 | 1 comment

Dennis BrunningBy Dennis Brunning

Ali what ah?

This Chinese web site, an Amazon on super-steroids, is going public this Friday on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO may be the largest ever. Possibly because its users are almost the entire population of China. And Alibaba, unlike Amazon, makes money.

Before conference, the Charleston Advisor will publish its 14th installment of Reader’s Choice Awards. It is the best list ever, thanks to TCA’s brilliant managing editor, George Machovec and a talent team of editors and contributors that include names synonymous with the Charleston Conference and all the great stuff it generates.

Alibaba will be there, awarded. To help the Alibaba story along, here is the skinny on this great web company.

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba in 1999 as the Alibaba Group. 720 million users are registered with the company and in 2013 did over 7 billion dollars in sales. In the road show leading up to the IPO Jack Ma, who might be become the richest man in the world this Friday, claims the web site can handle heavy use from a billion users. This may make it the most robust transactional web site ever.

alibaba logo

The IPO will highlight a Chinese internet’s company entry into a world class company. It affirms the US’s economy and political system where a Chinese state capitalism elects to set down roots–we are winning the world  Monopoly game. It also introduces a much need foil to Amazon’s dominance in retail e commerce.

Jack Ma came up with the name while hanging out in a Bay Area Coffee shop. He imagined the world bazaar’s of old where all was for sale in the most direct and convenient fashion.

It’s strength is its ability to connect buyer and seller in the world’s most heterogenous economy–China’s. It is a hybrid of PayPal, E Bay, and Amazon–with all of the latter’s focus on customer but with much more profitable growth. It’s operating margins in 2013 are 50%, netting 5 billion in profits from 7 billion in revenues. Amazon et al are nowhere close.

Yahoo is keen on next Friday’s IPO. They own 23% of the company from its inception. It will be payday for the company that has struggled against the success of all those companies it helped–Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Somewhere in the mix are AOL shareholders. Good for you! You stayed the course and Jack Ma, the former English language teacher, is turning your life golden.


Dennis Brunning is Director, the Design Library at Arizona State University Libraries. The design school services the Design School of the Herberger Institute for Art, Dance, Film, Theatre, and Music. Dennis is subject librarian for all areas except music. He also writes for Against the Grain and the Charleston Advisor. Dennis opened the first boxes of personal computers at ASU and has been playing with technology ever since.


If you want to learn even more about Alibaba check out another ATG Original: Alibaba – Meet China’s Online Giant (Parts 1 & 2)

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