Alibaba’s 102 year journey


Jack Ma started his company Alibaba in 1999, when the internet in China barely existed. When visiting America, Ma experienced a more advanced internet firsthand and had his rock ’n’ roll moment when he foresaw the great impact this technology would have on China. In his Big Transformational Idea, he believed in the power of the internet to move people, markets and money. His companies shaped digital China like no other.

Image by flickr

Alibaba’s Vision is “We do not pursue size or power; we aspire to be a good company that will last for 102 years. We aim to build the future infrastructure of commerce. We envision that our customers will meet, work and live at Alibaba.”

How did Alibaba come up with 102 years? 1999 + 102 = 2101. Founded in 1999 Alibaba grasped the possibility to stay in business spanning 3 centuries. These 102 years are a statement to the long-term perspective and commitment to sustainable business development.


An essential step to success is the commitment to continuously creating outstanding customer value. Being able to sustain that customer value and finding a unique niche with this value proposition over a long-time manifests business and enabling a business to grow beyond average is key. Alibaba is such a business. The corporation follows a long-term policy and a Big Transformational Idea: To reinvent the worlds of retail, logistics and payment in a never ending process. The elements fit into one another and generate new added value over and over – in a comprehensive ecosystem. Alibaba’s visionary thinking encompasses decades, even centuries.

The swoosh take-off of „Singles“ Day“ describes best how a small idea can take huge transformational dimensions within an ecosystem like Alibaba. By reinforcing successful developments and working mechanisms the Singles‘ Day grew manifold every 11th of November since its inception in 2009. Alibaba’s sales volume that day grew from about ten million US-Dollar in 2009 to about 75 billion Dollar in 2020. The mega shopping event celebrating singles and motivating them to shop is one of the most recent modern social events and a nascent „tradition“.


Alibaba’s MissionTo make it easy to do business anywhere” in times of digitization and datafication aims to enable small and medium sized business through technology and innovation. No matter how this unique value proposition (UVP) will be applied in the future it will always translate into a customer focused approach to value creation. An ecosystem of tools on Alibaba’s platforms enables the exchange of services from company to merchants to 3rd party service providers and to customers in a network. All network participants mutually learn and develop the platform through orchestration of the platform owner.

Image by cainiao

To illustrate power of the ecosystem we can look at Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics gateway coordinating external logistics suppliers. The platform integrates with with all logistics process and covers end to end facilitation across the Alibaba ecosystem. Through data intelligence, Cainiao enables external companies to work seamlessly, increase efficiency and realise Alibaba Group’s logistics vision of fulfilling consumer orders within 24 hours in China and within 72 hours anywhere else in the world.

Another example is Alibaba Pictures, a film company coordinating supply and demand of movie merchandise through the e-commerce platforms like Taobao and Tmall as well as their social media Sina Weibo. The consumer insight from hot topics on Weibo and product trends on Taobao help to market and commercialise movies through intelligences as well as sales channels within their own ecosystem.