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China's Massive Alibaba Marketplace, By the Numbers

The numbers behind the absolutely gigantic Chinese e-commerce company, which just filed for an IPO in America.

by Jason Koebler
May 6 2014, 11:55pm
Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Image: Wikipedia Commons

Alibaba, one of China’s largest tech companies, just filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public on the New York Stock Exchange. 

If you’re not familiar with international e-commerce, you probably haven’t heard of the company, but they’re literally the largest online commerce company in the world, operating as a sort of three-headed monster that combines the functionality of eBay, Paypal, and Amazon, with a bit of Google’s advertising thrown in for good measure.

Unlike Amazon, the company doesn’t actually sell directly to consumers. Instead, it operates as the marketplace only, connecting massive corporations like Nike, Apple, Disney, and any other retailer you can think of with consumers in China using its Tmall shopping center. It lets consumers pay for things, like Paypal, with Alipay. It also lets consumers internationally buy from Chinese exporters.

Just wrapping your head around what the company actually does is tough enough, but figuring out just how huge it is is borders on incomprehensible, but let’s try anyway.

IPO Expectations 

Alibaba expects to raise between $15 and $20 billion in its IPO.

That’s like: Facebook’s IPO in May, 2012, when it raised $16 billion.


Alibaba is expected to be valued at $200 billion.

That’s more than: Coca-Cola ($173.05 billion), McDonald’s ($99.5 billion), Samsung ($174.4 billion), Amazon ($119 billion), and eBay ($65.4 billion).

But less than: Apple ($416.62 billion), Microsoft ($234.83 billion), Google ($268.45 billion), and General Electric ($243.74 billion). 

Last year: 

Image: Alibaba SEC filing

Retailers on Alibaba sold $248 billion worth of merchandise in China.

        That’s 3.6 times more than Amazon has sold over the past year ($67.8 billion).

Alibaba processed 11.3 billion orders.

        That’s 1.6 orders per person on Earth.

Image: Alibaba SEC filing

Was responsible for sales resulting in the shipment of 5 billion packages.

      That’s more, worldwide, than UPS, FedEx, and USPS deliver each year (4.3 billion, 1.2 billion, and 3.5 billion, respectively).

Alibaba processed 254 million orders on Singles Day (Nov. 11), China’s closest equivalent of Cyber Monday. 

      That’s nearly seven times as many orders as items sold by Amazon on Cyber Monday (36.8 million).

Future growth:

On December 31, 2012, the company had 160 million active buyers. A year later, it had 231 million, a 44 percent growth rate.

In China, 48 percent of Internet users buy things online. In the United States, 74 percent of Internet users do. 

Image: Alibaba SEC filing

In China, 45 percent of the total population is online. In the United States, 83 percent of the population is online.

Image: Alibaba SEC filing

Meanwhile, China’s Internet user population growth chart looks like this:

Image: Alibaba SEC filing

Yeah, this is big.

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