No, I am not talking about the legend of Ali Baba and the forty thieves. I am talking about a Chinese web portal, currently the largest B2B sourcing portal and trading platform in the world. It also has a financial services company and a consumer sales portal that belong to the same corporate group. According to a report, Alibaba group handled about US$ 170 billion worth of trading in 2012, more than eBay and Amazon combined!
Ali baba is the brainchild of Mr. Ma Yun, a Chinese national who thought of a one-stop sourcing website for everybody at any corner of the world. Ma Yun, a well-travelled man, enquired a lot of people he met on the way about the name “Ali Baba”. In his words, “People from India, people from Germany, people from Tokyo and China- they all knew about Ali baba.” So he decided to use this name for his ecommerce web-portal, that has come a long way since its inception in 1999.
Today, the revenue of http://www.alibaba.com stands at about US$ 4 billion (2012), mostly commissions from handling trade and other financial transactions. No matter how fancy the brand name has been, alibaba.com seems to fill an important gap in the market- a platform for exchange between those who produce and those who want to buy. This is essentially a key element to any efficient market system. We can clearly see the overwhelming power of simple ideas, stemming from the very basic requirement of exchange platform that Yun thought about 13 years back. It seems that, when simple and basic ideas are put to work, they really work wonders!