Alibaba Book Summary - Alibaba Book explained in key points
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Alibaba summary

Duncan Clark

The House That Jack Ma Built

4.3 (48 ratings)
20 mins
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    China’s consumer habits have been changing alongside the rise of online shopping.

    It’s not unusual to have conflicting thoughts about China. Many products sold in the United States have a label that reads “Made in China,” so many recognize the country as a giant of retail manufacturing. But the country is also recognized as having a powerful communist government.  

    Even so, there is a new trend emerging in China as its economy steadily shifts toward consumerism.

    Traditionally, the people of China aren’t very consumer-minded. Even today, household spending only accounts for a third of China’s economy. Meanwhile, in the United States, consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the economy.

    But the times are changing in China, and a good illustration of this is the country’s November 11 national holiday. This day marks a celebration for single people in China, a sort of twist on Valentine’s day, and has become a hugely important day for Chinese retailers.

    Back in 2009, only 27 shops were offering Singles’ Day-related sales; but only six years later, in 2015, 40,000 retailers and 30,000 brands had joined in on the festivities.

    One of the participating retailers was Alibaba, a Chinese company that specializes in online commerce. Remarkably, during the first ten minutes of Singles’ Day in 2015, $1 billion in purchases had been made through Alibaba.

    Alibaba has been at the forefront of online commerce, which has experienced tremendous growth in China as the country comes to embrace consumerism.

    But few people could have predicted just how successful Alibaba would become.

    Alibaba has received its fair share of comparisons to Amazon, the popular shopping website based in the United States. Much like Amazon’s reputation as “The Everything Store,” Chinese customers like to say you can buy anything on, one of Alibaba’s many popular subsidiary sites.

    But the impact Alibaba has had on China’s economy far surpasses Amazon’s status in the United States. In fact, as of 2016, Amazon is the twelfth-most popular retailer in the United States, while Alibaba is China’s number one most popular.

    Alibaba became such a commercial giant that when it became a publicly traded company in 2014, it generated the greatest global initial public offering, or IPO, ever.

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    What is Alibaba about?

    Alibaba (2016) charts the astronomical rise to worldwide retail supremacy of Jack Ma and his online business, Alibaba. From his humble beginnings as a school teacher, Jack Ma proved to be a visionary entrepreneur who was far ahead of his time. This is the tale of a man who saw the potential of the internet when everyone else was still scratching their heads over e-mail, and although he ran into one problem after another, he never lost his drive to be better than the rest.

    Best quote from Alibaba

    We didnt have any money, we didnt have any technology, and we didnt have a plan. – Jack Ma on Alibabas humble origins.

    —Duncan Clark
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    Who should read Alibaba?

    • Entrepreneurs
    • Investors interested in e-commerce
    • Anyone who likes a good underdog story

    About the Author

    Duncan Clark has over 20 years of experience as an investment banker in China, where he’s learned to speak fluent Mandarin. All the while, he has followed the development of internet-based companies in China, and has gotten to know Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, quite well.

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