The rise of the Chinese tech giant

Is there anything that
Chinese conglomerate
Alibaba Group doesn’t sell?
For your next beach vacation,
you could book fights
on Alibaba-owned Alitrip,
buy sunscreen on Alibaba’s
Tmall, and archive your sunkissed
selfes on Kanbox,
Alibaba’s cloud-storage
platform. And with Alipay,
a payments platform similar
to PayPal, you could do
it all via digital wallet.
When Alibaba introduced
Alipay in 2004, it was
a signal that the then-fveyear-old
company’s growing
ambitions extended beyond
pure retail. Still, it would
have been hard to imagine
that a decade later Alibaba
would achieve the largest
IPO in history, a $25 billion
debut on the New York Stock
Exchange. At the time of
Alipay’s launch, only 7%
of shoppers in China had
access to the Internet, and
the e-commerce market was
worth just $750 million.
Then, revolution arrived.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma
anticipated the value that
smartphones would unleash
when paired with the consumer
demand of China’s
fast-growing middle class.
His strategy: to become
the one-stop shop for
mobile consumers, with
Alipay as the central infrastructure.
Retail, messaging,
transportation—if there’s
an app for it, there’s an
Alibaba solution on hand.
Now the annual transaction
volume on Alibaba’s primary
e-commerce platforms is
more than double what consumers
spend on Amazon.
But there are challenges
ahead. In China, competitors
like Tencent’s
are gaining share of the
e-commerce market. At the
same time, signs of slowing

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