Alibaba Group Holding Limited is a Chinese e-commerce, retail and technology conglomerate that provides C2C, B2C and B2B sales services via web portals, as well as electronic payment services, shopping search engines and data-centric cloud computing services. It also owns and operates a diverse array of businesses around the world in numerous sectors. 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. As of November 2017, Alibaba's market cap stood at US$486.27 billion. It is one of the top 10 most valuable and biggest companies in the world.
Alibaba is the world's largest and most valuable retailer since April 2016, after it surpassed 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 the media industry, with revenues rising 3-digit percents year on year. It also orchestrated China's Singles' Day into the world's biggest online and offline shopping day, with its own sales reaching over US$25.4 billion on 11 November 2017.
As of November 2017, Alibaba has over 550 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 2017, Alibaba became the first Asian company to break the US$400 billion value mark, before Tencent's US$500 billion valuation broke the record in the same year. Alibaba's affiliate Ant Financial was ranked sixth in Fortune's Change the World list, recognised for the positive green environmental impact of its Ant Forest, the world's largest platform for tracking individuals' carbon footprints. Ant Financial and its partners have achieved considerable success in the reduction of CO2 emissions. Alibaba has also announced that it will invest 100 billion yuan over five years to build a global logistics network, underpinning an aggressive overseas expansion, and demonstrating Alibaba's commitment to building the most efficient logistic network in China and around the world. It is investing 5.3 billion yuan in Cainiao Smart Logistics Network to boost its stake to 51 percent from 47 percent. The investment would value Cainiao, a joint venture of top Chinese logistics firms, at around US$20 billion. It is also rapidly expanding its e-commerce network abroad.
Recently, Alibaba has outperformed major cloud players including Amazon, Microsoft and Google in public cloud revenue growth, achieving triple-digit percentage revenue growth year-on-year.
Alibaba created a new live entertainment business unit under its Digital Media and Entertainment Group which focuses on ticketing, content creation and live experiences, bringing its entertainment ticketing platform Damai and its content creation and technology units MaiLive and Maizuo under one roof. It aims to provide a platform for live events (e.g. concerts, plays, eSports and sports events), as well as supporting content partners and leveraging Alibaba’s data capability for offline shows. It has also entered a cooperation with JD.com to further develop China's parcel delivery efficiency, investing US$330 million into its Chinese merchandisers and logistics partners to build more facilities for delivery purposes.