Citation Note

based on field research; 15 pages.

Also compare: How Taobao Bested Ebay in China, in: Financial Times, March 12th 2012; and:

淘宝如何在中国战胜eBay, in: Financial Times, March 16th 2012, (Chinese)


This case aims to provide students with a better understanding of the following areas: 1. Business Network as a viable business model in the contemporary business environment; 2. Information resources management is vital for a successful company strategy; 3. The importance of institutions in China’s businesses today.


China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba, benefited from setting up an innovative platform where complementary ventures formed a network to cross-market and cross-sell each other’s services.


Founded in 1999, the Alibaba Group had become China’s leading e-commerce company by 2008. It owns and operates (the world’s largest business-to-business e-commerce platform) and (China’s number one consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platform). Limited raised US$1.7 billion at its initial public offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in November 2007, making it the world’s second biggest Internet offering after Google’s 2004 IPO on the NASDAQ. also attracted significant international attention because it managed to displace the once dominant eBay (the world’s largest consumer marketplace) in China by 2007. The Alibaba Group attributes its success largely to the business network it has fostered. It founded several sister companies alongside and to cross-sell and cross-market one another’s services and offer packaged deals. In this way, it formed a network of suppliers, partners and customers to fully exploit and serve their market. The Alibaba Group’s vision is to build a business network that will make it possible to do all aspects of business online. Considering the growing e-commerce industry worldwide, three questions are pivotal: 1) How should the Alibaba Group anchor its long-term strategy – further expand the business network by including players from many more industries or specialise in several strong industries within the business network? 2) Would another business model emerge to challenge the Alibaba’s business network? 3) How would the Alibaba Group face competition within China and abroad – continue to focus on the Chinese market or grow outside the home base and build a global business network?


A perfect combination of strategic and information management, this case provides unique material for discussing business innovation in the Chinese e-commerce sector.

Case Study