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Snapshot: Alibaba.com Is eCommerce and the Supply-Chain's New Google

Alibaba.com, it appears, is to list on the New York Stock Exchange rather than Honk Kong’s market. This is A Good Thing for reasons I suspect even the upper echelons of the company might not fully appreciate. This is because, when Alibaba floats, it is likely to be the most significant business-technology ‘pop’ since Google.

Google made the world’s information searchable, but Alibaba makes the world’s goods available. It is the new face of the globalisation marketplace and it lets seven billion of us view, compare, buy and sell goods wholesale, or in units of one-plus.

Think of it this way: if Google got rid of pub arguments that resorted to people bringing in the Encyclopedia Britannica the next day and made advertising work properly then Alibaba opens up the global supply chain that unites makers with sellers. Want 5,000 USB memory keys with your brand on? A custom T-shirt for your conference? An idea that will make you $30,000 a year on the street market? Alibaba is the answer. Want to sell the same stuff? Same answer.

The reason that listing on the Big Board, as the NYSE used to be known, is significant in that it places the Chinese company immediately in a western context and separates it from the tech-centric NASDAQ bourse. With this move Alibaba immediately buys credibility, but it also buys publicity, along with the sense that this is not only a tech company, but a business that massively disrupts the ancient trading continuum. It’s a new Silk Road, a company that deserves to be much better known and should be doubling down on PR, advertising and marketing so that everybody knows this fact. By floating in New York it gets part of the job done for free.

People often talk about how fast moving technology and the internet are, but the fact remains that there is often a lag between what’s happening and the ultimate effects of these actions. Blame the media if you will, but the significance of big moves are often only realised much later.

So it is with Alibaba, a game-changer if ever there was one. An IPO will raise billions of dollars but it will also place the company where in public perception where it has long been… at the epicentre of the new globalised supply chain.

By Martin Veitch, Editorial Director at IDG Connect


- Interview: read Martin Veitch’s July interview with European Head, James Hardy

 

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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