Alibaba.com, a China-based B2B marketplace site, was founded in April 1999 by Jack Ma and his team. In three years after the launch, the company became profitable and soon started rolling out new sites and services such as Taobao.com, a C2C online retail marketplace, a third-party online payment platform Alipay, an instant messaging tool Aliwangwang, and a digital marketing platform Alimama.com. In 2014, the company went public in New York, with the record 25 billion U.S. dollars IPO, bigger than Google, Facebook, and Twitter combined. By then, Alibaba was the world’s largest online commerce platform for small businesses. Today, the Alibaba Group is among the top ten most valuable companies worldwide.
In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, the Alibaba Group’s annual revenue amounted to around 509.7 billion yuan (approximately 72 billion U.S. dollars) with a net income of 140.4 billion yuan (around 19.6 billion U.S. dollars). The majority of group revenues are generated through its various e-commerce ventures with local e-commerce retail accounting for around 65 percent revenue share. Meanwhile, the revenue from cloud computing services are growing the fastest: it nearly doubled every year since 2017. In fiscal year 2020, the Alibaba Group generated a gross merchandise volume of nearly 6.6 trillion yuan through its online retail market places, with the cumulative number of active online buyers across all online shopping properties amounting to 726 million as of the first quarter of 2020.
The current estimated digital buying penetration rate among internet users in China is around 54 percent. The increasing usage of mobile internet has opened up the possibilities of mobile shopping for both consumers and e-tailers. Alibaba has seen a rapid growth of mobile usage on its online shopping properties with a number of mobile monthly active users reaching 846 million as of the first quarter of 2020, up from 721 million users in the same period of the previous year.