The Alibaba IPO Isn't Really an Alibaba IPO

Alibaba, ahem, TaoBao IPO

All the buzz in the tech community recently seems to be about the forthcoming Alibaba IPO. Why? Because it could be the largest internet IPO ever, easily surpassing Facebook, Twitter, and other North American internet powerhouses. If you haven’t heard, Alibaba surpasses even Amazon in total sales.

For importers, Alibaba is all too familiar with us as the way to connect with Chinese suppliers (whether you swear by it or curse it). The first time I heard of Alibaba’s size and scale I couldn’t help but to wonder how a site connecting factories and trading companies in China to those in the West could be that big. Then I found out the secret: Alibaba owns TaoBao. If you’re not familiar with Taobao then I strongly encourage you to get a Chinese girlfriend or boyfriend and watch how many purses or running shoes they’ll buy through this site. In China, TaoBao has a near monopology on ecommerce. And if you didn’t know, China has quite a few people!

So the truth is, the Alibaba IPO really has nothing to do with Alibaba. That just happens to be the name of the holding company. The Alibaba really is a TaoBao IPO.


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