Business Management

Alibaba: The World Awaits

Rather like Westminster politicians finally recognising the possibility of Scotland becoming an independent nation when it was almost too late, the significance of Alibaba Group’s IPO has loomed on the horizon or in peripheral vision for some time. At first it seemed a small matter, now it’s an unmissable object and subject to acres of newsprint by media outlets that had largely ignored the company previously. Later today when the company finally makes its IPO it will be hard to avoid hearing about it.

Some have made comparisons with the IPO of Netscape which was the firing pistol for the dotcom generation. But Alibaba is a much more difficult proposition to understand. If I were a stock picker I would leave this well alone because the company is so full of variables and imponderables.

Alibaba is huge, almost unfathomably so, but it is a collection of related businesses. That it has succeed in China is not in doubt. What’s not clear is its ability to translate that formula internationally. Just as the American internet powerhouses have not always been able to transition into other markets, cultural differences will pose big challenges for Alibaba. Delivery models, ways of recognising revenue, marketing, public relations, management durability, the ability to talk to the stock markets, legal challenges… to paraphrase the old song, there are more questions than answers.

Despite this, there appears to be warm enthusiasm for the IPO. This might, however, be more to do with Mammon and the frenetic energy engendered by such a large debut than sense. 

Alibaba is enormous but the real significance of today and the future of the company is that it demonstrates the changing, globalising face of e-commerce and technology where more often than ever we need to look east rather than west to see the next giants.

To get up to speed on Alibaba, please take a look at our earlier coverage:


Alibaba Europe Interview: Alibaba Defines the New Face of eCommerce

Globalisation Will Make Tech Stocks Hard To Call

The IPO Tech Market: A Riddle

The West’s FUD on China’s Rise

InfoShot: Alibaba Joins Superpowers

Alibaba IPO: An International or Chinese Push?

Tencent Targets Alibaba

The Hottest Chinese Firms You’ve Never Heard Of

Why China Goes Slow On Piracy



Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect


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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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