Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built

Recently finished Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built. Enjoyed the book and came away with a better understanding of Jack Ma's vision and personality at the heart of Alibaba. Even more importantly, learned more about the Son/Ma fallout and Alipay split from Alibaba. Book seemed to rush the recent years but left me with a number of staggering stats and learnings listed below. Definitely worth the read for those looking to better understand the Chinese ecommerce market.

  • Now a new model is emerging, one centered on catering to the needs of a middle class expected to grow from 300 million to half a billion people within ten years.
  • “Iron Triangle,” the key underpinning of the company’s dominance today: its strengths in e-commerce, logistics, and finance
  • Just as Google is synonymous with searching online, in China to “tao”7 something is shorthand for searching for a product online
  • For every person in China there are only six square feet of retail space, less than one-quarter the space in the United States.
  • Already more than 40 percent of Chinese consumers buy their groceries online as compared to just 10 percent in the United States.
  • In China, the e-commerce gold rush has stimulated the rise of more than eight thousand private courier firms, of which twenty major companies stand out.
  • By far the most popular online payment tool in China, Alipay handles more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year in online transactions, 3 times the volume of PayPal and one-third of the $2.5 trillion global online payments market.
  • Jack Ma on MBAs: "Most MBA graduates are not useful. . . . Unless they come back from their MBA studies and forget what they’ve learned at school, then they will be useful. Because schools teach knowledge, while starting businesses requires wisdom. Wisdom is acquired through experience. Knowledge can be acquired through hard work.”
  • Crucially for Alibaba, SARS convinced millions of people, afraid to go outside, to try shopping online instead.
  • Without WeChat a cell phone in China loses much of its utility. The WeChat app effectively has made the contact book redundant. Most users check the application at least ten times a day.
  • By the end of 2015, had surpassed Tmall by some estimates to become the leading e-commerce player in Beijing.