Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese e-commerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals. It also provides electronic payment services, a shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing services. The group began in 1999 when Jack Ma founded the website Alibaba.com, a business-to-business portal to connect Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers. In 2012, two of Alibaba’s portals handled 1.1 trillion yuan ($170 billion) in sales. Suppliers from other countries are supported (with more stringent checks than for Chinese companies), but the company primarily operates in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). At closing time on the date of its initial public offering (IPO), 19 September 2014, Alibaba’s market value was US$231 billion. However, the stock has traded down and market cap was about $212 billion at the end of December 2015.
It is the world’s largest retailer as of April 2016 surpassing Walmart, with operations in over 200 countries, as well as one of the largest Internet companies . Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015. It has been expanding into media and entertainment industry, with revenues rising 3-digit percents year on year.
As of August 2017, Alibaba has over 529 million monthly active mobile users across its platforms. It also provides an online digital distribution service 9Apps , which hosts huge amount of content and applications for downloads.
In May 2017, Alibaba’s market cap grew to USD$305 billion, after Tencent achieved the feat. At the same period, Alibaba also became one of the world’s top 10 most valuable companies. On 8 June 2017, Alibaba’s market cap grew to USD$360 billion. The company also reported sales growth forecast which topped every analyst’s estimate, while at the same time surpassing Tencent to become Asia’s most valuable company.
In July 2017, Alibaba became the first Asian company to break the USD$400 billion value mark, and by August 2017, its market cap rose to USD$442 billion.
In August 2017, Alibaba-backed 58 Suyun will merge with Hong Kong’s GoGoVan, to create an Asia-based online logistics platform. Company executives have stated that there are big plans for the merger to become a global logistics corporation.
In September 2017, Alibaba’s Ant Financial affiliate unveiled a facial recognition technology that allows a customer to pay by flashing a smile, through its Alipay services. A 3D camera located at the point-of-sale scans the customer’s face to verify their identity, there’s also a phone number verification option for additional security.