Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba are about to break records by floating for a whopping $16-20 billion.
This is bigger than Facebook and sliced bread put together.
Alibaba connects Chinese businesses with overseas companies and also owns Taobao – China’s answer to ebay.
The founder of Alibaba is the enigmatic Jack Ma. Ma started out his career as an English teacher earning $12 a month and is now one of the ten richest people in China. He has his own unique style of leadership and he likes to entertain his employees by dressing in gliitery mohawk outfits, black lipstick whilst singing bad karaoke.
According to one of his colleagues there is a personality cult centred on Ma that is encouraged by senior management at the company. There is even a hagiographic film documenting his rise Crocodile in the Yangtze. Despite the slightly dull narrator this films offers a fascinating insight into Ma’s meteoric rise and includes footage of the first company meetings and its early aspirations.
Although he is hailed as China’s answer to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg Ma insists that he knows ‘nothing about technology’ and often offers words of wisdom such as:
‘The internet is like a glass of beer: it tastes best when there are bubbles in it’.
Alibaba group has just bought China Vision Media Group – who own the broadcasting rights to the English Premier League in China and run the Beijing Times. This deal has, for the time being, scuppered the mega floatation as their accountancy records are under scrutiny. In order to make sure no one messes with them further they have installed martial arts legend Jet Li as a non executive director.
The “bigger than facebook” float hasn’t happened yet. But watch this space…