What is Alibaba? It’s kind of like if you combined Amazon, Hulu, JCPenney, PayPal, Google Maps, Twitter, Spotify, Orbitz…

Lot of news recently about Alibaba, since it’s going public in the United States. A common refrain is: what is it? There are many ways to answer that — do your own Google search — but this one might be the best contextual explanation of the company. Based on the different services they provide, here’s all the Western companies (that you might be more familiar with) you’d have to combine to add up to Alibaba:


This all makes sense in one essential way: Alibaba is probably most compared with Amazon in the Western world, and Amazon’s strategy is a bit similar: seems scattershot on surface, but basically is about entering tons of different markets, connecting back to previous markets, and creating a world for the individual where the central brand (Amazon, Alibaba) is crucial to their day-to-day life. Isn’t that the essence of what “branding” really is?



Ted Bauer