Module 5 Alibaba Case study

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Module Five:

Alibaba Case Introduction

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group Hldg

Ltd. (NYSE:BABA), has always been cautious about

competing head

to

head with the world’s lar

gest corporations. Speaking of eBay, he said

“eBay is a shark in the ocean. We are a crocodile in the Yangtze River. If we fight in the ocean,

we will lose. But if we fight in the river, we will win.”

This cautious attitude now seems to have

given way to a realization that

if

Ma sustains

the near

co

ntinuous 40% growth rate of his

$300

billion empire, which centers on a marketplace connecting brands with buyers, globalization is

unavoidable (Forbes, 2018).

Alibaba h

as up

and

down performance around its governance and executive leadership.

Broad

scal

e supplier integrity issues and negative publicity surrounding the accuracy of its

financial statements forced Ma to take the company private and return as Alibaba’s CEO in

2012, a position he still holds today. Although Alibaba continues to

see

revenue gr

ow

th, its

reach is certainly less

than

global in scope

and demonstrates only cyclical operational

performance success.

Facing new Chinese competition within several of its main business units

,

and increasing

global pressures from retail giants like Walmar

t and Amazon (Forbes, 2018), Ma spent 2017

jetting to dozens of countries, meeting with government and industry leaders to spread his

latest vision for Alibaba,

which involves

global small businesses trading freely and securely on

Alibaba’s platform. Ma’s

strategic plan shared during these meetings included the formation

of the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), Ma’s version of the World Trade Organization

and a web

based approach to lowering trade barriers for small businesses in the region,

but it

ha

s not gained the widespread enthusiasm he had hoped for.

In the meantime, Alibaba has attempted to execute an aggressive internationalization

strategic policy using mergers and acquisitions, acquiring foreign companies in cloud

computing, digital advertis

ing, artificial intelligence, and mobile payment technologies. One of

its most ambitious

moves, a proposed $1.2 million

acquisition of global payment service

MoneyGram

,

was blocked by the

U.S. g

overnment in early 2018. Moreover, recent tariffs

imposed by t

he U

nited

S

tates and China on one another have cast

further uncertainty about

Ma’s visions for the eWTP (Business Insider, 2018).

In the f

all of 2018, Ma made a surprise announcement that he would be leaving Alibaba

entirely by 2020

, and the CEO’s chair b

y September

2019, marking Alibaba’s 20th anniversary.

Some analyst

s reviewing the company after Ma

’s announcement note that while Ma may

have picked a great time to leave personally, the company itself offers no real future strategy.

Others assert that Ma’

s retirement is just a formality. Is Alibaba ready to go global or not,

without Mr. Ma? Case Study Guidelines and Rubric

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