Alibaba: Highest IPO, but What’s Happening Internally?


Alibaba is listed as one of Fast Company’s Most Innovated Companies, as it should be. Alibaba is revolutionizing business. In America, we know of America as the highly successful online retailer that recently acquired SnapChat (an app that is banned in China), but in their country Alibaba is reshaping industries. They are diversified and highly profitable: their expertise stretches from cinema to banking and they had the biggest IPO ever. Everything they touch turns to gold, yet I don’t know anything about their corporate culture. Alibaba deserves all the laud it may receive for the results of its business, but its internal functions are a mystery.

From my first search, i found out that as of 2014, Alibaba had 22,072 employees. Cool, this means nothing to me.

I found out more. A 2014 Forbes article details a positive look into Alibaba’s cooperate culture. The article describes a celebration days before the historic IPO where Ma toasted over a mass wedding for Alibaba employees, 102 couples were married in this celebration. The article also details a corporate culture of transparency, pointing to an intranet forum where employees are encourages to air grievances. While transparency is good, the article leaves the impression that Alibaba may be a company that does not value individuals.

I wasn’t really sold on Alibaba’s culture until reading a Harvard Business Review Blog. This article details the start of Alibaba.com, as a separate entity from Alibaba. In order to keep culture the same in both companies, Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba and Alibaba.com, brought employees into to his home to start alibaba.com. The same place where Alibaba had been started. By relocating the start-up to such an intimate setting, Jack Ma was able to ensure that values and emphasis on employees could be instilled in alibaba.com, as it had been in Alibaba.

I wasn’t able to find a lot on the company, but everything that I read felt positive and unbiased. From what I can tell, Alibaba seems like a great place to work. I do think the giant could work on the transparency that the Forbes article touts, but overall I’m sold on the business.

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2 thoughts on “Alibaba: Highest IPO, but What’s Happening Internally?”

  1. Maybe it can use its corporate success within context of China to provide more freedom of expression than citizens find in public?

    22000 employees is TINY for a large IPO. Walmart has 1000000 employees. Citibank probably has more than 100,000. It’s IPO must reflect growth potential as much as size. Also, it probably indirectly employs huge numbers like any outsourcing firm.

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  2. I’d like to know a little bit about the daily regiment of an employee at Alibaba. Do you think the forum is an effective way for employees to implement change?

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