Alibaba's World: How a Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business

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Macmillan, May 12, 2015 - Business & Economics - 242 pages
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**Selected as one of the Best Business Books of 2015 by the Wall Street Journal**

In September 2014, a Chinese company that most Americans had never heard of held the largest IPO in history – bigger than Google, Facebook and Twitter combined. Alibaba, now the world's largest e-commerce company, mostly escaped Western notice for over ten years, while building a customer base more than twice the size of Amazon's, and handling the bulk of e-commerce transactions in China. How did it happen? And what was it like to be along for such a revolutionary ride?

In Alibaba's World, author Porter Erisman, one of Alibaba's first Western employees and its head of international marketing from 2000 to 2008, shows how Jack Ma, a Chinese schoolteacher who twice failed his college entrance exams, rose from obscurity to found Alibaba and lead it from struggling startup to the world's most dominant e-commerce player. He shares stories of weathering the dotcom crash, facing down eBay and Google, negotiating with the unpredictable Chinese government, and enduring the misguided advice of foreign experts, all to build the behemoth that's poised to sweep the ecommerce world today. And he analyzes Alibaba's role as a harbinger of the new global business landscape—with its focus on the East rather than the West, emerging markets over developed ones, and the nimble entrepreneur over the industry titan. As we face this near future, the story of Alibaba—and its inevitable descendants—is both essential and instructive.

 

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Alibaba’s World is a an autobiographical-business book hybrid that chronicles the rise of Alibaba-a Chinese e-commerce company from an apartment building to a company that challenges corporate goliaths E-Bay and Amazon. Porter Erisman knows what he’s talking about because he was the former VP at Alibaba. From his vantage point, Erisman writes about the the successes and to a lesser degree the failures of the company because Jack Ma wasn’t a conventional businessman who did things the way an MBA might have.
While the story itself is interesting, the book is perhaps most useful for the forty lessons gleamed from Alibaba found in the last section of the book. These represent universal wisdom that is not just helpful for business people, but everyday life as well things like don’t dwell on mistakes and don’t fear tough decisions. Overall, I came away from this book with both an education on Alibaba and inspired to take on new challenges in my own life.
The best autobiographical-business-inspirational book I’ve read
 

Contents

The Great Leapfrog Forward
1
the Right Place the Right Time
7
Boom
15
Bust
23
The Foreign Experts
25
Alibabas Cave
33
Around the World with Jack
39
Alibabas Falling Carpet
43
The eBayAlibaba Hotline
113
Yahoo
125
The Deal Heard Round the World
137
The China Search Wars
155
Free Is Not a Business Model
161
AliMania
169
Leaving Alibaba
173
Winter
179

Back to China
47
Last Man Standing
55
Lock Up
71
War on eBay
83
The Google Guys
93
Crocodile in the Yangtze
103
Spring
183
Alibabas World
189
Alibaba and the Forty Lessons
215
Notes
237
Index
239
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About the author (2015)

Prior to joining Alibaba in 2000, PORTER ERISMAN worked for Ogilvy & Mather in Beijing. From 2000-2008, Porter worked as a Vice President at Alibaba.com and Alibaba Group, at various times leading the company's international website operations, international marketing, and corporate affairs as one of the company's first American employees. He is the writer/director of Crocodile in the Yangtze, an award-winning documentary about the rise of Alibaba and its famous founder, Jack Ma. An expert on ecommerce in emerging markets, he has consulted to ecommerce companies in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He lives in Shanghai, China.

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