Alibaba (SEHK: 1688) a Hangzhou-based e-commerce/e-auction company, specializing in global trading. It was founded in 1999 by Ma Yun (Jack Ma), and operates five e-commerce sub-companies which operate different aspects of trading.
In 2008, Alibaba.com attracted at least 23 million visitors of which 65 percent were from China.
The English-language web site alibaba.com specializes in business-to-business trades, especially for international buyers trying to contact Chinese sellers. The Chinese-language web site china.alibaba.com focuses on business-to-business trades within China, while www.taobao.com is a consumer-to-consumer trade site for Chinese customers. The Japanese language website "Japan.alibaba.com" is for Japanese customers.
Japan's Softbank was one of the earliest investors in Alibaba. Its founder, Masyoshi Son, invested $18 million in the company in 2000 and also participated in subsequent rounds of financing.
On August 11, 2005, Yahoo! announced that it would purchase a 40% stake in the company for US$1bn plus Yahoo!'s Chinese assets (worth about US $700M). Alibaba will take charge of Yahoo! China, and Alibaba's founder Jack Ma will remain.
As of January 2007, the Alibaba Group is made up of 5 sub-companies:
English language global trade website serving small and medium-sized enterprises.
Online auctions web site for customers.
Online payments web site, processing mainly payments within China.
Provider of web services to the Chinese Small and Medium-sized Enterprise marketplace.
Online advertising exchange, which allows web publishers and advertisers to trade online advertising inventory.
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Purchased recently from New York
Jack Ma said: "One day I was in San Francisco in a coffee shop, and I was thinking Alibaba is a good name. And then a waitress came, and I said do you know about Ali baba? And she said yes. I said what do you know about Alibaba, and she said ‘Open Sesame.’ And I said yes, this is the name! Then I went onto the street and found 30 people and asked them, ‘Do you know Alilbaba’? People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China… They all knew about Alibaba. Alibaba — open sesame. Alibaba — 40 thieves. Alibaba is not a thief. Alibaba is a kind, smart business person, and he helped the village. So…easy to spell, and globally known. Alibaba opens sesame for small- to medium-sized companies. We also registered the name AliMama, in case someone wants to marry us!"
On July 31, 2007, Alibaba announced plans for an IPO in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, in which they hope to raise HK$7.8 billion (US$1 billion).
Alibaba.com was listed in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange at the IPO price of HK$13.5 on 5 November 2007, raising HK$11.6 billion (US$1.5 billion) in the second-largest initial public offering sale of an Internet company after Google Inc. Its PE ratio at IPO price is over 100 for expected result in 2007. It closed at HK$39.5, nearly 190% higher than IPO price ($13.5), with PE ratio of about 300 for expected result in 2007. It showed the greatest increment in stock price at the first trading day among new stocks listed in 2007.
Customer Communications in North America
On 3 April 2008, 2008, Alibaba.com started their first official blog targeted for the international small and medium sized enterprise (SME) community, with a special emphasis on communicating with merchants in the United States. Their blog, the AliBlog (www.aliblog.alibaba.com) is marketed as "the latest word from Alibaba.com on our news, events, and community" while promising to be an official source for information and opinion from an employee's perspective on Alibaba.com.
Alibaba Group, in its largest investment foray, established in July 2008 the "Investors' Alliance" in association with 20 domestic and overseas venture capital (VC) firms, targeting China's Software as a service market