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on April 8, 2013
After watching the 'Crocodile in the Yangtze' documentary on Alibaba and Jack Ma I bought this book because I wanted to know more about the company and it's background. I have to say it has been a rather disappointing read for several reasons.

First of all, the book is seriously dated. It covers the Alibaba history up to 2008 and is therefore missing the most recent developments in the company and market. It also feels like an incomplete story because at the end of the book Alibaba is still fiercely competing with eBay and integrating Yahoo! in it's organisation. What's more, there's a large extract from a 2008 report on the state of the Internet in China. The statistics are interesting but basically useless since they are 5 years old.

Second, although I liked the first part of the book, which is more about Jack Ma personally and his unexpected accomplishments, the second half of the book is mainly about financial investments, shares, IPOs, organisational reorganisations, etc. Rather dry stuff at best. I'm personally more interested in the marketing aspect of Alibaba and have not found a lot of interesting material in this book.

Third, I have found the book to be overtly positive on anything that happens with Ma and Alibaba. The writing often has an almost revering tone to it proclaiming almost anything Jack Ma and the company does as extremely smart and even justifying the bigger mistakes made. It also fails to mention some of the criticism the company has received during the years. As such, the book reads more like a PR document for Alibaba than an objective report.

Finally, the book was clearly written for the Chinese market and some things just don't translate well. There's a lot of use of Chinese proverbs in the narration of the story that just seem strange to westerners. Also, some concepts like Jack Ma's fascination with Chinese martial arts and the implementation of it's concept into his management style is described in such depth and detail that most western readers will be lost. Finally, it describes some of the more protectionist aspects of the Chinese economy that have played a role in Alibaba's success in a rather inapprpropiate positive way.

All in all I found this to be a relatively boring, unbalanced and outdated account of an exciting story. I would urge anyone to watch 'Crocodile n the Yangtze' instead of reading this book.
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on May 18, 2009
"Alibaba" is the tale of how Jack Ma founded Alibaba group--a privately and publicly held internet commerce conglomerate in China. To my knowledge, there is no comparable company in the US--and perhaps the world...and it is worth reading about how Jack Ma created this business.

Alibaba group comprises several companies, including the Chinese equivalent of Ebay (privately held Taobao), Paypal (privately held Alipay), and it's own unique business to business commerce site: alibaba.com, which is publicly traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange (ticker: 1688:HK), but probably more easily accessible to American shareholders on the pink sheets (ticker: albcf.pk).

Alibaba.com is an important company. It has attracted the attention of famous American investors like Jim Rogers, who reportedly bought into the company during its ipo. Jim Rogers reviews the company in his book "A Bull in China." For those who have never seen what a b to b internet commerce company is--just go to alibaba.com--and take a look! It's fascinating. Alibaba.com offers companies a way to instantly "glance" around the world and find a supplier of choice for any product they may need. Want to find a supplier of shoes in Vietnam--you'll find 88 different entries advertising products. Just for fun, type "spices" into the alibaba.com's search engine, and learn about the world's suppliers of spices. Alibaba.com's most important function is to audit the suppliers (for a price) and bless the trustworthy ones. Global trade and Adam Smith's invisible hand will drive the growth of alibaba.com well into the future.

One lesson to be learned by reading this book: don't compete with alibaba group. Jack Ma has brilliantly cultivated relationships with his government that promise to help shield his company (and other home grown Chinese companies) from foreign competition (e.g. Paypal). Moreover, Jack Ma is willing to "dump" his product on the market to undercut the competition (Taobao charges no fees, allowing taobao to destroy Ebay's franchise in China), and he can wait for years before needing to make a profit. In any case, read this book to learn how business is done in China, where many of the world's most important companies now operate...

addendum: 2/5/10 In the past few months, Alibaba.com has created "AliExpress." Essentially, Alibaba.com is transforming itself into an internet retailer, akin to Amazon.com. Alibaba is now attempting to make money on individual transactions between Chinese wholesalers and purchasers throughout the world, using their own "Alipay" service to mediate the transactions. In 10 years this service will be huge. Look out.
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on January 5, 2015
Nice book, learned a lot about history and growth of alibaba, not carefully organized but incorporated a nice theme of martial arts,:)
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on January 27, 2013
This book is very inspiring for the young generations. It encourages them to go after their dreams. Sometimes, education encourages students to go step by step. But in reality, it may not be the case all the time. Nobody could tell Jack Ma, who failed the college entrance exam twice, would become one of the most important figures in the Internet era.

Alibaba, of course, is a success. Ma found the market and enlarged it. Jack Ma is such an inspiring person. Two quotes are very inspiring from Ma:

1. "Entrepreneurs must know the answers to the two question. First question is, What do you want to do? It's not what your parents want you to do, or what your colleagues tell you to do. It's not what others are doing but what you want to do indeed. Second question is, What do you need to do? You must understand that this is not about what you can do. Instead, it's what you should do."

2. "There's no way back on entrepreneurship. The biggest failure is to give it up."

I wrote a blog about it: [...]

If you have a dream, go after it.
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on December 28, 2009
Alibaba is a global leader in business-to-business e-commerce. Its founder Jack Ma is not your typical business executive. For one, he failed multiple times to enter top Chinese Universities. He later utilized his strong english skills to become an english teacher which helped with his transition into business. He was a visionary and saw early on the potential of the internet. He risked big, failed big, but never gave up until he transformed alibaba into a dominant internet company. Visit
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on July 20, 2013
I was looking for a hair blower with curler brushes and found this site and this product. It looked great. Cost me $65 and 6 weeks waiting period to get the product. When it arrived I immediately made sure it was all there and it worked,and it did! I have used it on and off for the past 2 months (there is a 30 day return policy) and after about 6 uses it stopped working. The thing doesn't come on.

I could fight and try to get my money back, but it's not worth the time and trouble. A $65.00 lesson learned.
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