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Alibaba and Everything You Should Know

Posted by Onassis Krown on
What is Alibaba

What Is Alibaba?

Alibaba is a wholesale marketplace for buyers looking to purchase large quantities of products like clothing, accessories, jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, watches, gemstone beads and more at the lowest price. Alibaba allows buyers to negotiate directly with manufacturers, create custom products, and achieve significant cost savings.

Who Created Alibaba?

Alibaba was founded in 1999 by former English teacher Jack Ma, who scraped together $80,000 from 80 investors to start an online marketplace for Chinese companies. He became the richest man in China and his estimated net worth has topped $47 billion.

What Does Alibaba Do?

Its primary business is to offer a digital marketplace where consumers and merchants can connect and buy and sell from each other. But the company has expanded its operations to include cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, and other business offerings.

History of Alibaba

On 28 June 1999, Jack Ma, with 17 friends and students founded Alibaba.com, a China-based B2B marketplace site, in his Hangzhou apartment. In October 1999, Alibaba received a US$25 million investment from Goldman Sachs and SoftBank. Alibaba.com was expected to improve the domestic e-commerce market and perfect an e-commerce platform for Chinese enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to help export Chinese products to the global market as well as to address World Trade Organization (WTO) challenges. In 2002, Alibaba.com became profitable three years after launch. Ma wanted to improve the global e-commerce system, so from 2003 onward, Alibaba launched Taobao Marketplace, Alipay, Alimama.com, and Lynx.

When eBay announced its expansion into China in 2003, Ma viewed the American company as a foreign competitor and rejected eBay's buyout of Alibaba's subsidiary Taobao. Through applying existing technologies and gaining trust in the Chinese e-commerce market, as well as expanding through dominating the market at a loss before making a return on additional services, Alibaba's subsidiaries outperformed eBay in the Chinese e-commerce market, claiming a growing percentage of consumers from eBay. Alibaba subsidiary Taobao would later force eBay out of the Chinese market, with eBay closing its unprofitable China Web unit, though the two companies would break even six years later.

In 2005, Yahoo! invested in Alibaba through a variable interest entity (VIE) structure, buying a 40% stake in the company for US$1 billion. This would as a result net in US$10 billion in Alibaba's IPO alone to Yahoo!.

According to Li Chuan, a senior executive at Alibaba, the company was planning in 2013 to open traditional brick and mortar retail outlets in partnership with Wanda Group, a Chinese real estate company. Additionally, Alibaba purchased a 25% stake in Hong Kong-listed Chinese department store chain Intime Retail in early 2014. In early 2017, Alibaba and Intime's founder Shen Guojun agreed to pay as much as HK$19.8 billion (US$2.6 billion) to take the store chain private. Alibaba's stake—28% from 2014's US$692 million investment—would rise to about 74% after the deal.

In April 2014, Alibaba invested in Lyft, along with Coatue Management, and Andreessen Horowitz; they led a US$250 million Series D financing round. On 5 June 2014, Alibaba bought a 50% stake of Guangzhou Evergrande F.C. from Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. in a deal that was worth 1.2 billion yuan (US$192 million). On 5 September 2014, the group—in a regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)—set a US $60- to $66- per-share price range for its scheduled initial public offering (IPO), the final price of which would be determined after an international roadshow to gauge the investor interest in Alibaba shares to shareholders. On 18 September 2014, Alibaba's IPO priced at US$68, raising US$21.8 billion for the company and investors. Alibaba was the biggest US IPO in history, bigger than Google, Facebook, and Twitter combined. On 19 September 2014, Alibaba's shares (BABA) began trading on the NYSE at an opening price of $92.70 at 11:55 am EST. On 22 September 2014, Alibaba's underwriters announced their confirmation that they had exercised a greenshoe option to sell 15% more shares than originally planned, boosting the total amount of the IPO to $25 billion.

Alibaba and the underwriters of its IPO were sued in a California superior court in a consolidated class action lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in October 2015 on behalf of investors who purchased Alibaba's American depositary shares alleging violations of the Securities Act. Alibaba reached a settlement agreement in December 2018, subject to court approval, in which it agreed to pay $75 million to settle the lawsuit.

In January 2017, Alibaba and the International Olympic Committee jointly announced an $800 million deal that would last until 2028 in where the company would sponsor the Olympic Games. In September 2018, Jack Ma, the main founder of Alibaba, announced that he would step down as chairman in a year's time so he could focus on philanthropy. In response to the announcement, The Economist stated that Ma had a significant impact in China and worldwide via contributions and dedication to various businesses.

In May 2019, Bloomberg cited sources familiar with the matter as saying that Alibaba was considering raising $20 billion through a second listing in Hong Kong. On Tuesday, 10 September 2019, Jack Ma officially stepped down as the chairman of Alibaba, Daniel Zhang succeeded him at the head of the company. In September 2019, the municipal government of Hangzhou announced that it was boosting its monitoring of the private sector by embedding government officials in Alibaba and other companies.

In November 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping personally scuttled Jack Ma's Ant Group IPO. At that time this was highlighted as the world's largest IPO suspension, sending a chilling warning to numerous entrepreneurs. Bo Zhuang, chief China economist at TS Lombard said that the suspension "forms part of a wider political drive as the leadership seeks to widen and consolidate its control over finance and technology". What followed was an unexpected Chinese government-released draft on 10 November 2020, which gives regulatory authorities a wider latitude to regulate their biggest tech enterprises.

On 24 December 2020, China launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba Group regulators, in a crackdown on China's booming Internet space's anti-competitive behavior. In December 2020, the shares of Alibaba Group suffered a historic stock price crash to the lowest close in around 6 months, following the antitrust investigation into the company by Chinese regulators. In December 2020, China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) stated that it opened an investigation into Alibaba over monopolistic practices. The country's central bank, as well as three other regulators, confirmed in a separate statement that the affiliated Ant Group would also be summoned for discussions over "competition and consumer rights", where regulators instructed the company to return its focus to digital-payments. People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, endorsed the investigation shortly after the announcement, claiming the investigation to be "an important step in strengthening antimonopoly oversight in the internet sphere." As a result, from the antitrust probe, Alibaba lost nearly all of its stock-market gains in 2020, from $859 billion to $586 billion, by the end of December. Jack Ma, co-founder of both Alibaba and Ant Group, vanished from public view when Ant's IPO was suspended in early November, but resurfaced in January 2021 in a 50-second video, appearing briefly via video link at the digitally facilitated Rural Teacher Initiative. As of February 2021, he has yet to be seen in public. The video appearance caused Alibaba stock to jump more than 7%.

In February 2021, Alibaba sold $5 billion in bonds, the company's third large sale of dollar bonds, issuing four sets priced to yield between 2.143% and 3.251%. The four sets of bonds were $1.5 billion of both 10 year and 30 year debt along with $1 billion of bonds due in 20 and 40 years. The 20 year bonds were designated as sustainability notes.

On April 9, 2021, as part of a Chinese crackdown on big tech, SAMR issued a $2.8 billion fine against Alibaba for anti-competitive practices and ordered Alibaba to file self-examination and compliance reports to the SAMR for three years. This amounted to 12% of its 2020 net profit. Critics say the move tightens the Chinese's governments control of tech companies.

On 11 November 2021, it was reported that over the course of its 11-day Singles' Day sales extravaganza, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding received a record 540.3 billion yuan (S$114.4 billion) in orders, a 14 percent increase over the previous year.

In July 2022, the SEC added Alibaba to a list of companies facing delisting from U.S. stock exchanges if its auditors remain unable to examine Alibaba's books before 2024.

Alibaba Reviews

Alibaba.com is generally a safe marketplace for online businesses. However, you need to understand that Alibaba.com is just a B2B platform and not a supplier — it is a platform where buyers and suppliers meet. So, while you can trust that Alibaba.com is legit, you also have to ensure that the buyer/seller is reliable.

Because Alibaba acts as a middleman and does NOT carry any of their own products, all bad Alibaba reviews should be taken with a grain of salt.

First off, practically ANYONE can sell on Alibaba. Alibaba.com has over 150,000 active suppliers on the platform and over 10 million sellers on AliExpress, Taobao and TMall combined.

With that many sellers, there are bound to be some good suppliers and some bad ones and it’s impossible for Alibaba to sort through them all.

However, Alibaba has many security measures in place to combat fraud. Buying from Alibaba isn’t risky, you just have to be careful and understand how to sort the good suppliers from the bad.

Below are the most common types of Alibaba reviews that you’ll find on the Internet and how you can avoid having a negative experience.

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