Alibaba is an e-commerce platform that generated over $134 billion in revenues in 2022, and over $7.4 billion in net income. Alibaba has six main segments: core commerce (revenues generated in China), international commerce, local consumer services, cloud services, Cainiao (logistics), digital media, and other innovation initiatives.
- Introduction to Alibaba business model
- Alibaba short background story
- Alibaba vision and mission
- Alibaba core values
- Alibaba’s business ecosystem
- Alibaba monetization model
- Cost of revenues
- Alibaba organizational structure
Introduction to Alibaba business model
Alibaba is China’s biggest online commerce company. Founded on April 4, 1999, in Hangzhou, China, by Jack Ma.
Alibaba is the world’s fifth-largest internet company by market cap.
As specified in their annual report:
We generate most of our revenue from our core commerce segment. We also earn revenue from services associated with our cloud computing segment, digital media and entertainment segment as well as innovation initiatives and others segment. A substantial majority of our revenue is attributable to our businesses in China. See
Alibaba short background story
Alibaba was founded on Jun 1, 1999, by Eddie Wu and Jack Ma. Today they are respectively Senior Vice President and Executive Chairman.
With over eight billion dollars raised since 1999.
According to Crunchbase, Alibaba started an acquisition campaign starting in 2010 that saw the acquisition of brands like:
- Ejoy Technology
- AGTech Holdings
- South China Morning Post
- Yueke Software
- Xiami Music Network
Today Alibaba represents a platform that served more than four hundred million people in 2016.
Alibaba vision and mission
Alibaba’s vision is “we do not pursue size or power; we aspire to be a good company that will last for 102 years.”
As Alibaba highlighted in its 2022 financials:
For a company that was founded in 1999, lasting for 102 years means we will have spanned three centuries, an achievement that few companies can claim. Our culture, business models and systems are built to last, so that we can achieve sustainability in the long run.
In short, that is about enhancing a commerce ecosystem within China and internationally.
Alibaba core values
Alibaba’s core values can be broken down into six main principles that drive the organization, and align it both internally (employees, shareholders) and externally (customers, investors):
- Customers first, employees second, shareholders third.
- Trust makes everything simple.
- Change is the only constant.
- Today’s best performance is tomorrow’s baseline.
- If not now, when? If not me, who?
- Live seriously, work happily.
Alibaba’s business ecosystem
Alibaba is, most of all, a business platform.
Of that, $903 million was generated by China commerce retail businesses. Thus it was spurred by Alibaba’s China consumer-facing businesses.
And $305 million was generated by International Alibaba’s China consumer-facing businesses (Lazada, AliExpress, Trendyol, and Daraz).
Alibaba’s core technological segments can be broken down in:
- Cloud: the foundational layer.
- Logistics: to enable commerce.
- Commerce: with its main segments to nurture the business ecosystem in and outside China.
The Cloud infrastructure is comprised of:
- Alibaba Cloud: powering up a good chunk of the services built on top of Alibaba’s platform.
- And DingTalk.
The logistics layer comprises all the infrastructure to serve commerce in and outside China.
And the commerce side comprises:
- China Commerce.
- International Commerce.
- Local Consumer Services.
- Digital Media and Entertainment.
- Innovation Initiatives.
Alibaba monetization model
As reported in Alibaba’s annual report:
We derive revenue from our four business segments: core commerce, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, and innovation initiatives and others. We derive most of our revenue from our core commerce segment, which accounted for 85% of our total revenue in fiscal year 2017, while cloud computing, digital media and entertainment, and innovation initiatives and others contributed 4%, 9% and 2%, respectively. We derive a substantial majority of our core commerce revenue from online marketing services. The revenue model of our
China’s commerce retail business primarily includes Taobao Marketplace, Tmall, Rural Taobao, and commerce technologies and services.
Launched in 1999, Alibaba.com is the leading platform for global wholesale trade with millions of buyers and suppliers worldwide.
Launched in 2010, AliExpress.com is an online retail service made up of small businesses in China and elsewhere, such as Singapore, offering products to international online buyers.
Other platforms such as Taobao, 1688.com, and Lazada are part of the Alibaba network.
The cloud computing segment comprises Alibaba Cloud, which offers a complete suite of cloud services.
Digital media and entertainment
It primarily includes Youku Tudou and UCWeb.
Innovation initiatives and others
It includes businesses such as YunOS, AutoNavi, DingTalk.
Cost of revenues
The principal components of our cost of revenue include:
- Content acquisition costs paid to third parties for online media properties;
- Logistics costs relating to fulfillment services provided to us by affiliate Cainiao Network, primarily related to Tmall Supermarket;
- Traffic acquisition costs are paid to third-party marketing affiliates either at a fixed price or on a revenue-sharing basis;
- Payment processing fees paid to Alipay or other financial institutions; the cost of inventory;
- Expenses associated with the operation of websites, such as bandwidth and co-location fees, and depreciation and maintenance expenses for our computers, servers, call centers, and other equipment; salary, bonuses, benefits, and share-based compensation expenses;
- Rebates and subsidies mainly relating to our new business initiatives;
- Business taxes and related surcharges; and allowance for doubtful accounts about the microloans and VAT receivables.
Alibaba organizational structure
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