Alibaba Group, the e-commerce phenomenon founded in 1999, is now considered to be the world's largest retailer, surpassing Wal-Mart last year. At the end of the last financial year, the company posted a gross market value (GMV) of 3 trillion yuan, about $476 billion.
Still operating a myriad of online marketplaces and shopping sites, the group has also invested in and launched online payment, cloud computing and instant messaging services, to name but a few. Its founder, Jack Ma, has committed the company to creating 100 million jobs in the next 20 years. But what else do we know about this giant of Chinese and international business?
- Alibaba was started by Ma from his apartment in Hangzhou.
- Goldman Sachs and Masayoshi Son, the chairman of Japan’s SoftBank, were some of the first investors in Alibaba, which was originally intended as an online meeting place for businesses.
- In 2002, Ma proposed changing the focus of the business to compete with sites like eBay and its Chinese partner, EachNet. Though Alibaba had only just begun to break even, financing was secured from Softbank to launch Taobao.com, a retail marketplace.
- In 2014, 250 million buyers in China used the e-commerce site and orders from Alibaba accounted for more than 60% of all package deliveries in China.
- In the same year, Alibaba was listed on the NYSE, raising $20 billion for the company in the process and valuing the firm at $231 billion.
- In the fiscal year to March 2016, a record $463 billion of deals were conducted through Alibaba's e-commerce sites.
- At Davos in 2017, Jack Ma announced that Alibaba had signed a partnership with the International Olympics Committee.