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Alibaba Group logo
|Industry||Internet, E-commerce, Computer software|
|Founded||Hangzhou, China (1999)|
|Headquarters||Hangzhou (China Headquarters), Hong Kong (International Headquarters), China, Hong Kong|
|Area served||China and overseas|
|Key people||Ma Yun (Jack Ma), Chairman|
|Revenue||USD 4.1 billion (2012) |
|Owner(s)||Ma Yun (Jack Ma), Chairman|
Alibaba Group Coordinates: (simplified Chinese: 阿里巴巴集团; traditional Chinese: 阿里巴巴集團; pinyin:Ālǐbābā Jítuán) is a privately owned Hangzhou-based family of Internet-based E-Commerce businesses that cover business-to-business online marketplaces, retail and payment platforms, shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing services. In 2012, two of Alibaba’s portals together handled 1.1 trillion yuan ($170 billion) in sales, more than competitors eBay and Amazon combined. The company primarily operates in the People’s Republic of China. The company is estimated to have a valuation between $55 billion to more than $120 billion.
The company began in 1999 with the web domain Alibaba.com a business-to-business portal to connect Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers. Its consumer-to-consumer portal Taobao, similar to American eBay, features nearly a billion products and is one of the 20 most-visited websites globally. Alibaba Group's sites account for over 60% of the parcels delivered in China.
Alibaba Group companies and affiliated entities 
Alibaba.com Limited (simplified Chinese:阿里巴巴网络有限公司; traditional Chinese: 阿里巴巴網絡有限公司),), the flagship company of Alibaba Group, is the world’s largest online business-to-business trading platform for small businesses.
Founded in Hangzhou in eastern China, Alibaba.com has three major marketplaces. The company’s English language international marketplace (www.alibaba.com) serves to bring together importers and exporters from more than 240 countries and regions. The China marketplace (www.1688.com) is developed for domestic business-to-business trade in China. In addition, Alibaba.com offers a transaction-based wholesale platform, AliExpress (www.aliexpress.com), which allows smaller buyers to buy small quantities of goods at wholesale prices.
The company claims that together these marketplaces have more than 79 million registered users.
Taobao Marketplace, or simply Taobao, is the biggest consumer-to-consumer online shopping platform in China. Founded in 2003, it provides a wide variety of product offerings. The company claims that it served more than 370 million registered users as of the end of 2010.
Tmall.com was introduced in April 2008 as a dedicated B2C platform to complement Taobao’s C2C marketplace and became an independent business in June 2011. It is now a major online shopping destination for quality, brand name goods in China.
eTao (www.etao.com) was beta-launched by Taobao in October 2010 as an independent search engine and became an independent business in June 2011. It is the most comprehensive shopping search engine in China, covering product results from most Chinese online shopping platforms.
Launched in 2004, Alipay (www.alipay.com) (simplified Chinese: 支付宝, ) is a third-party online payment platform. According to analyst research report, Alipay has the biggest market share in China with over 700 million registered accounts as of the end of 2012. However how many active or unique accounts this translates to is unknown, with Alibaba Group refusing to provide an answer. It is highly likely that this figure will surpass PayPal's 117 million active users regardless.
Alipay provides an escrow service, in which consumers can verify whether they are happy with goods they have bought before releasing money to the seller. This has been a significant advantage to the service as China's weak consumer protection laws have reduced consumer confidence in C2C and even B2C quality control.
Alipay partners with more than 100 financial institutions including Visa and Mastercard to provide payment solutions for Taobao.com and Tmall.com as well as more than 460,000 Chinese businesses. Internationally, Alipay connects more than 300 worldwide merchants directly to consumers in China. It currently supports transactions in 12 major foreign currencies. Alipay is an affiliate of Alibaba Group.
The PBOC, China's central bank, issued licensing regulations in June 2010 for third-party payment providers. It also issued separate guidelines for foreign-funded payment institutions. Because of this, Alipay, which accounts for half of China's non-bank online payment market, was restructured as a domestic company controlled by Alibaba CEO Jack Ma in order to facilitate the regulatory approval for the license. The 2010 transfer of Alipay's ownership was controversial, with media reports in 2011 that Yahoo! and Softbank (Alibaba Group's controlling shareholders) were not informed of the sale for nominal value. Chinese business publications Century Weekly criticised the actions of Ma, while Ma stated that Alibaba Group's board of directors were aware of the transaction. The incident was widely criticized in foreign and Chinese media as harming foreign trust in making Chinese investments.  The ownership dispute was resolved by Alibaba Group, Yahoo! and Softbank in July 2011.
Alibaba Cloud Computing aims to build an advanced data-centric cloud computing service platform, including e-commerce data mining, high-speed massive e-commerce data processing, and as well as data customization. It was established in September 2009 in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of Alibaba Group.
Aliyun. The cloud computing industry in China is in early developmental stages at this time. Adoption of cloud services and is serving more and more customers; however user familiarity and understanding of the technology is still underdeveloped as it has only been introduced in the past few years. Cloud computing services is currently estimated to lag five years behind the US in infrastructure and consumer development.
The Chinese cloud market currently represents only 3% of the global cloud market with Gartner projecting 40% annual growth. In service revenue, the Chinese cloud industry is projected to reach US$18.6 billion in revenue in 2013. In its recent Global Cloud Index report, Cisco forecast that the Asia region will generate the majority of global cloud traffic by 2016.
Alipay is looking to differentiate its cloud services from competitors by providing free market information and statistical data. To do this, they have partnered with the YunFen Fund in a US$161 million deal.
There is significant competition for the high-growth Chinese cloud market. TenCent and Baidu have both claimed that their own cloud networks are the largest in China and are continuing to invest in personal storage solutions. Tencent’s Weiyun is being positioned as the third component to its mobile platform that already includes the WeiBo micro-blogging service and the WeiXin (WeChat) group chat service.
Meanwhile Baidu, the search engine web services company is investing heavily in cloud computing, committing US$1.6 billion alone in a new data centre. On the consumer side, it recently announced a deal to provide free personal cloud storage to Android phones powered by selected Qualcomm chips in a bit to expand its consumer base. Yunio is a small start up compared to these competitors that intends on providing a syncing cloud-based storage service that should appeal to professionals. The functionality of Yunio wil mimic that of Dropbox in the US. Huawei, one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment makers is similarly readying its global cloud service for 2013, however has encountered setbacks in US government license regulation due to its ties to the Chinese government and military.
IBM’s SmartCloud and Microsoft similarly have aggressive entrance strategies and it is expected that Amazon will also soon be entering the foray. It’s still very early days for Cloud in China but it is predicted there will be 12x growth over the next 10 years
Beyond competition there are many technical setbacks to the implementation of nationwide cloud services. Yunio CEO Chris Matthews notes that the Internet infrastructure in China is fractured in both region and ISP, making it more difficult to set up a reliable nationwide service.“In China, you have eight bandwidth providers nationwide and none of them play well with each other. This is human implemented, it’s not a technical problem”. While salary costs are lower in China, any savings on engineering staff are offset by additional bandwidth and server costs.
China Yahoo! 
In October 2005, Alibaba Group formed a strategic partnership with Yahoo! Inc and acquired China Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com.cn), which is a Chinese portal with a focus on essential Internet services including news, email and search.
Corporate governance 
As of January 2013[update], Jack Ma was Alibaba Group's chief executive officer. Ma announced his intention to step down from this post on January 15, 2013. Alibaba Group is estimated to have an IPO some time in 2013.
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 Alibaba? And she said yes. I said what do you know about Alibaba, and she said ‘Alibaba and 40 thieves'. And I said yes, this is the name! Then I went onto the street and found 30 people and asked them, ‘Do you know Alibaba?’ People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China… They all knew about Alibaba. Alibaba — open sesame. 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!"
||This section is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (June 2011)|
- In December 1998, Jack Ma and other 17 founders released their first online marketplace named "Alibaba Online".
- From 1999 to 2000, Alibaba Group raised a total of US$25 million from SoftBank, Goldman Sachs, Fidelity and some other institutions.
- In December 2001, Alibaba.com achieved profitability.
- In May 2003, Taobao was founded as a consumer e-commerce platform.
- In December 2004, Alipay, which started as a service on the Taobao platform, became an independent business.
- In October 2005, Alibaba Group took over the operation of China Yahoo! as part of its strategic partnership with Yahoo! Inc.
- In November, 2007, Alibaba.com successfully listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
- In April 2008, Taobao established Taobao Mall (Tmall.com), a dedicated B2C platform, to complement its C2C marketplace.
- In September 2008, Alibaba Group R&D Institute was established.
- In September 2009, Alibaba Group established Alibaba Cloud Computing in conjunction with its 10-year anniversary.
- In May 2010, Alibaba Group announced a plan to earmark 0.3% of its annual revenues to fund environmental protection initiatives.
- In October 2010, Taobao beta-launched eTao as an independent shopping search engine.
- In June 2011, Alibaba Group reorganized Taobao into three separate companies: Taobao Marketplace, Taobao Mall (Tmall.com) and eTao.
- In July 2011, Alibaba Cloud Computing launched its first self-developed mobile operating system, Aliyun OS over K-Touch Cloud Smartphone.
- In January 2012, Tmall.com changed its Chinese name as part of a rebranding exercise to reinforce its positioning as a source of high-quality, brand-name products.
Alibaba's Gold Supplier Membership and Related Controversy 
Alibaba.com try to ensure their sellers are genuine by offering what they call Gold Supplier membership. "To qualify for a Gold Supplier membership, a supplier must complete an authentication and verification process by a reputable third-party security service provider appointed by Alibaba.com". While the majority of suppliers are genuine, there are still those seeking to defraud unsuspecting buyers which in February 2011 caused much controversy, as Alibaba admitted that it had granted the mark of integrity of its “China Gold Supplier” program to more than 2,000 dealers that defrauded buyers, with the firm's share price dropping "abruptly" after the announcement. A statement from the firm reported than Yan Limin, the General Manager of Alibaba.com at the time, had been dismissed in March for "misconduct"; Phil Muncaster of UK's The Register additionally reported that "a further 28 employees had been involved in dodgy dealings". As the Economist noted, the company's response has conflicting components: Alibaba's promulgated view that its corrective actions indicate its commitment to quality and integrity (where it contrasts itself with other scandal-associated Chinese business sectors), versus a damage control view suggesting that the subscription-driven, third-party verified “China Gold Supplier” program was endangered by diminished trust in its endorsement system, removing the incentive for global buyers to choosing Alibaba as their B2B service, thus more broadly endangering Alibaba through impact on its brand and capabilities (the latter via the "defenestration of senior people"). Overall, the scandal has placed the head of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma—who is described as having been furious over the scandal—in a position to personally fight to win back trust.
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