Ma first started building websites for Chinese companies with the help of friends in the US. Ma has commented that "The day we got connected to the Web, I invited friends and TV people over to my house," and on a very slow dial-up connection, "we waited three and a half hours and got half a page.... We drank, watched TV and played cards, waiting. But I was so proud. I proved (to my house guests that) the Internet existed"
Ma now serves as chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, which is a holding company with five major subsidiaries—Alibaba.com
; Taobao, Alipay, Alibaba Cloud Computing and China Yahoo!.
, which went public in Nov. 2007 as the second-biggest Internet IPO in history after Google
, and trades in Hong Kong under the symbol 1688.HK, is the world's largest business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform, and features marketplaces in English, Japanese (along with investor Softbank
) and Chinese. Alibaba.com
is making a new push into global markets in 2009, including plans to spend upwards of $30 million in marketing in the US and UK to drive greater buyer interest by appealing to existing small business owners and newly minted entrepreneurs looking to connect with suppliers from around the world.
In 2003, Ma's Alibaba Group launched Taobao
, an Internet retail Web site that is equivalent to eBay
with parts of Wal-Mart.com
mixed in, which also provided an innovative escrow-based online payment service, Alipay (necessary in China, where credit and debit cards are not widespread). Taobao last year became the largest retailer in all of China, and has a 75 percent-plus share of the Chinese-domestic online consumer market. It serves nearly 145 million registered users as of mid-2009. Transaction volume on Taobao (gross merchandise volume or GMV) reached nearly US$11.8 billion in the first half of 2009, exceeding the largest retailer in China in transaction volume during the same period. According to government statistics, Taobao's GMV equaled approximately 1.4 percent of China's total retail trade in the first half of 2009. Alimama (www.alimama.com
), an online advertising exchange and affiliate network for hundreds of thousands of publishers in China, was merged into Taobao in September 2008. At the time of the merger, Taobao reported that it reached break-even status. Koubei.com
, China's leading classified listing website, was also integrated into Taobao in August 2009.
In addition to supporting transactions on Taobao, Alipay has become the leading third-party online payment platform in China, and it provides a safe, secure way for consumers to purchase goods and services on the Internet. Alipay has more than 50 percent share of China’s third-party online payment market, and announced in July 2009 it had topped 200 million registered users. Alipay provides an escrow payment service that takes funds from a buyer, alerts the seller the funds are in escrow and once it learns the buyer is satisfied releases the funds to the seller. It has been credited with significantly accelerated the growth of consumer e-commerce in China.
In June 2008, Alibaba Group merged China Yahoo!, which it acquired as part of the investment of Yahoo!
in Alibaba Group in 2005, with Koubei.com
, another Group company to create a platform (Yahoo! Koubei), offering in part a classified listings service focused on cities like Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The idea behind Yahoo! Koubei is the ability to use the net to help people looking for products and services in a locality find those who are offering the same. Koubei.com
was integrated into Taobao in August 2009.
In late 2008, Ma merged Yahoo!China, which Alibaba acquired as part of the investment of Yahoo!
in Alibaba Group in 2005, with Koubei, another Group company to create a platform (Yahoo!Koubei) designed as a classified listings service focused on the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The idea behind Yahoo!Koubei is the ability to use the net to help people looking for products and services in a locality find those who are offering the same. Yahoo!Koubei is expected to have a positive impact on employment as well as the ability to find goods, professional services, apartments to let, etc.
Ma remains as chief executive officer and chairman of board after Yahoo!
acquired a 40% economic stake (35% voting rights) in Alibaba Group in exchange for USD$1billion plus all of Yahoo!'s Chinese-based assets (formerly known as Yahoo! China), on August 10, 2005. Japan's SoftBank
, another main investor, had about 33% stake in Alibaba Group as of October 31, 2009.