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Alibaba's World: How a Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business

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**Selected as one of the Best Business Books of 2015 by the Wall Street Journal **

In September 2014, a Chinese company that most Americans had never heard of held the largest IPO in history – bigger than Google, Facebook and Twitter combined. Alibaba, now the world's largest e-commerce company, mostly escaped Western notice for over ten years, while building a customer base more than twice the size of Amazon's, and handling the bulk of e-commerce transactions in China. How did it happen? And what was it like to be along for such a revolutionary ride?

In Alibaba's World , author Porter Erisman, one of Alibaba's first Western employees and its head of international marketing from 2000 to 2008, shows how Jack Ma, a Chinese schoolteacher who twice failed his college entrance exams, rose from obscurity to found Alibaba and lead it from struggling startup to the world's most dominant e-commerce player. He shares stories of weathering the dotcom crash, facing down eBay and Google, negotiating with the unpredictable Chinese government, and enduring the misguided advice of foreign experts, all to build the behemoth that's poised to sweep the ecommerce world today. And he analyzes Alibaba's role as a harbinger of the new global business landscape―with its focus on the East rather than the West, emerging markets over developed ones, and the nimble entrepreneur over the industry titan. As we face this near future, the story of Alibaba―and its inevitable descendants―is both essential and instructive.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2015

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About the author

Porter Erisman

3 books27 followers
Porter Erisman worked as a vice president at Alibaba Group from 2000-2008, joining the company just as it moved out of founder Jack Ma's apartment. He is the writer and director of Crocodile in the Yangtze: The Alibaba Story, an award-winning documentary about the rise of Alibaba and its famous founder. Erisman is also the bestselling author of Alibaba's World: How a Remarkable Chinese Company is Changing the Face of Global Business. Most recently, he is the author of Six Billion Shoppers: the Companies Winning the Global E-Commerce Boom. An expert on e-commerce in emerging markets, he has consulted to e-commerce companies in Africa, Asia and Latin America and has spoken at high-profile industry events in more than thirty countries.

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 219 reviews
Profile Image for Jonathan Mckay.
586 reviews52 followers
January 5, 2016
"I see a lot of US companies sending professional managers to China. They are making their boss in the US happy, but not the Chinese customer."

Every tech giant needs a book, and this is the first book that seems to offer a reasonable picture of Alibaba. Unlike most tech-business-history books (Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal, The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That is Connecting the World, Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! and The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon), this book is written by somebody who was an employee at Alibaba rather than a journalist, which makes the book a much more enjoyable read. This gives Erisman the ability to reach beyond the narratives of disgruntled employees and mostly avoid the rumors and gossip that make it into most official accounts. Erisman also sidesteps an uncomfortable phenomenon whereby western authors whitewash their interactions with Chinese counterparts in order to maintain good relations after publishing (Such as On China).

Most interesting is background on the battle between Alibaba and Ebay, how Alibaba won the publicity war only to be beaten at its own game by Qihoo 360 in the domestic market. Also, having just finished Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!, this was a great counterpoint to the Yahoo perspective, showing Alibaba's worries about operating in the Chinese as a joint venture (who bought whom?), and ultimately failed attempts to rescue Yahoo! China.
Profile Image for Girish Mathrubootham.
1 review16 followers
September 1, 2015
Good read. Lacked key insights and lessons learnt. Would have been great with insights from Jack himself.Still a decent book to understand doing business in China.
Profile Image for Suraj Thakkar.
7 reviews2 followers
March 16, 2016
I wish this book had more examples of how the engineering and sales team worked to take Alibaba where it is today. The author of the book was one of the senior managers at Alibaba working closely with Jack Ma and handling the PR work at Alibaba. He has described the Alibaba journey from a very high level mostly talking about the differences in chinese management style and the western management style . There are couple of chapters on the famous ebay vs Alibaba rivalry which i enjoyed. The initial 5-6 chapters are more about the author instead of Alibaba. The last 2 chapters where the author gives information about the rest of the businesses and websites which alibaba is involved in and the learnings from his overall journey are really inspiring.

PS: i finished this one as an audiobook and it was not bad :)
Profile Image for Jean.
1,710 reviews743 followers
November 4, 2015
This is a story about Alibaba, and its relationship with EBay, Yahoo and Google and the Chinese bureaucracy. Erisman provides an insider view and information about the world’s largest e-commerce site. From its start in Hong Kong to its present day dominance of the online China trade. Erisman went to work for Alibaba in its early days. Erisman was a Chinese speaking American public relation expert. Erisman tells the story of Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba and how he built the company into the giant it is today.

The book is well written and is written in an engaging style making it easy to read. The book is well researched and will probably find its way onto the book shelf of the average college business student. I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. George Newbern did a good job narrating the book.
Profile Image for Luana Lobão.
7 reviews
December 3, 2017
Livro que conta muitos aspectos sobre a cultura, erros e acertos do Alibaba. Desde a fundação, passando pelo IPO, até a atualização da visão. Jack Ma é um cara diferente, com uma cabeça e comportamentos fora da curva. Livro muito bom e muitas vezes inspirador.
Profile Image for Zak.
407 reviews28 followers
June 20, 2017
This book is a quick read. It gives a good overview of the Alibaba universe and its beginnings, but everything seems a bit "on the surface"...
Profile Image for Marina.
2,019 reviews311 followers
June 16, 2019
** Books 62 - 2019 **

Buku ini untuk menyelesaikan Tsundoku Books Challenge 2019

3,8 dari 5 bintang!

Astaga ini buku bisnis dan ekonomi yang bagus sekali untuk dibaca! Awalnya aku hanya iseng membelinya ketika promo di Google Play Books ternyata ketika dibaca makin kebelakangnya menarik ya mengikuti jejak fetusnya Alibaba dulu sampai sekarang! Akhirnya aku mengetahui kenapa orang-orang sangat mengagumi Jack Ma! Satu lagi aku juga menyukai terjemahannya yang enak dibaca. Kukira terjemahannya akan tidak seenak The Burning Maze ternyata buku ini tidak! Well done Noura Books!

Terimakasih Google Play Books!
Profile Image for Hoai Thao.
78 reviews21 followers
December 22, 2017
Đặt sách giấy tiếng Việt trên Tiki xong, đến khi nhận hàng mới nhớ ra là 2 năm trước lúc mới đi làm Sếp đã gửi bản PDF cho bảo đọc đi rồi. Cảm thấy tội lỗi nên phải ráng đọc xong trước khi hết năm 2017 :D
Đọc sách để thấy rất thân thuộc, gần gũi, để hiểu và trân trọng thêm ngành mình đang làm. Mình tin chắc rằng dù có coi đó là mục tiêu quan trọng nhất hay không, thì Alibaba & tất cả các công ty Thương mại điện tử đều tạo ra những giá trị lớn lao cho người tiêu dùng, mà dễ thấy nhất là Giá rẻ & Tiện lợi.
Đọc cũng để trăn trở rằng, dù công ty mình cũng đi theo những đường hướng của Alibaba, nhưng vẫn còn rất nhiều thứ thiêu thiếu. Thiếu ở đâu, sai ở đâu, bản thân phải cố gắng thêm thế nào...
Thích nhất câu nói của Jack Ma:
"Đừng thay đổi chỉ vì người ta nhìn bạn khác đi. Đừng thay đổi chỉ vì bạn có tiền trong túi. Bởi lẽ có những thứ không bao giờ thay đổi: những giấc mơ, lời hứa và giá trị của chúng ta."
Profile Image for Saifuddin Salim.
26 reviews
December 23, 2016
Pretty good read, I would rate it more if there are more insight on how Alibaba came about. Despite that, Porter Erisman done a wonderful job, telling the story of his's Alibaba story, with a pretty balance of telling the bad and the good side of Alibaba. From what I can tell, I believe Porter does do gives a honest impression of such phenomenon and his relationship with Alibaba. Note: this book is centered more on Porter Erisman side of the story and not Jack Ma, I think is which better than he write a story centered around Jack Ma which he is not and end with bland impression. With this Porter was able express his feeling and emotion throughout the story, give a human empathy side of things. It like reading a life journal or a diary, get to experience the drama of the up and down of Porter Erisman journey with Alibaba. Some of the chapter is short damn (not even one page), hinting: the freedom of the structure of story which really compartment the events and story into solid chapter and paragraphing. One chapter that was pretty neat was the 'Alibaba and the Forty Lesson' chapter. It the book a some kind summary chapter right at the end of the book that not just summarize the whole book in a chapter but give headings to each lesson that can be learnt in each chapters of the book with clear emphasis. As such, I pretty enjoy this book but it lack ending and insight which wasn't a a concern for me as long it entertain m. I'm good
Profile Image for SA Hoang .
22 reviews5 followers
August 16, 2019
Alibaba ra đời và trưởng thành sớm hơn độ tuổi của mình để nhận thức được về sự lớn mạnh của nó. Lần đầu tiên mình sử dụng dịch vụ của alibaba là vào năm 2014 với taobao, tmall alipay và cả đối thủ cạnh tranh jingdong. Mình chưa từng ý thức về tác động và thay đổi trong cuộc sống mà những công ty này mang lại, chỉ đơn giản là sử dụng dịch vụ của họ. Đọc hết cuốn sách này giúp mình lật lại thời gian từ mốc 1998 và điểm lại các sự kiện liên quan, đơn giản là hồi tưởng và nhận ra các công ty và chính sách của chính phủ Trung Quốc nghe tưởng xa xôi nhưng quả thật là ảnh hưởng trực tiếp tới cuộc sống của mình, tự thấy bản thân sao mà bị động hết sức.
Cảm ơn tác giả cuốn sách vì những kiến thức mà nó mang lại dù rằng chưa hẳn đã hoàn toàn là sự thực hay chỉ là thứ họ muốn cho mình thấy. Cảm ơn vì ngoài các Ceo đáng kính từ phương tây và Mỹ thì bây giờ mình đã có thể thêm Jack Ma vô trong tâm trí như 1 đại diện từ Trung Quốc trong thời hiện đại.
Profile Image for Arefeh Yavary.
95 reviews9 followers
September 17, 2019
کتاب صوتی شو گوش دادم
کتاب خوبیه نسبتا

و اینکه روحیه‌ی ملت‌های مختلف با هم فرق می‌کنه
و استدلال سیاست‌های اولیه‌شون جالبه

البته فاصله‌ی بین افسانه-روایت، برداشت و واقعیت رو نمی‌تونم تشخیص بدم توی این نوع کتاب‌ها
Profile Image for Yeshwanth  nag M.
13 reviews2 followers
November 3, 2015
"Today is tough. Tomorrow is tougher. The day after tomorrow is beautiful. But most people die tomorrow night and don’t get the chance to see the sun rise the day after tomorrow." This quote characterises a former English school teacher turned entrepreneur - Jack Ma's simple yet powerful philosophy - Optimism. Porter Erisman gives us an insider glimpse of how a startup called Alibaba grew in 15 years, from 0 to a $220 Billion company , changing, rather creating the Chinese ecommerce market. Personally, I felt that the China of 15 years ago seem to be the India of today. Powerful insights as well as Jack Ma'isms from Erismans perspective, makes this an inspiring & a compelling read to all entrepreneurs.
Profile Image for Sambasivan.
944 reviews28 followers
October 31, 2015
Jack Ma has created a remarkable company in a short span of time. He is one of the most under rated global entrepreneurs today. An English teacher, who says that he cannot understand computers must have had a great native intelligence to have created such a formidable company that successfully shut down its competitor ebay in China, got into the big league after acquiring Yahoo of China and now one the way to becoming the most valuable company in the world. Beware Apple.

The author, who had worked in Jack's team gives a good insider view of the culture of the company. The forty lessons that he learned during his tenure with the company and provided at the end of the book are quite instructive.

An excellent book with practical learnings for one and all.
Profile Image for Raph Kazidule.
94 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2020
I started reading this book with an intention that the practical steps Alibaba took to be successful will be shared. (They were not). The book is more if a memoir of the author at Alibaba. The book is still interesting and not boring. The author argues that the Cina government had no influence in Alibaba's growth. While thay may be true the Alibaba might have succeeded because the Chinese government was a barrier to other international Bussinesses like eBay. Ofcourse the author does not highlight that. His version of the story is that David(alibaba) defeated goliath (ebay). Ebay's own version would be nice. All in all a good, fast read.
93 reviews7 followers
October 29, 2015
The story of Alibaba's (and its founder Jack Ma's) evolution from a company in an apartment to the behemoth it is today. Written by a former Vice President of the company in charge of its PR who went through the whole cycle.

Key management takeaways include the importance of cultural context in deciding business strategy, the importance of long term and visionary thinking, an insight into the tactical maneuvers- clean and dirty- that are a part and parcel of corporate battles and the tightrope walk it takes to navigate a tricky political and bureaucratic landscape in emerging markets.
Profile Image for Garima Mamgain.
44 reviews18 followers
July 27, 2015
It's ironic that I read a book on Jack Ma when Jack Ma would famously never read a book on any company to ensure he never lets their strategies seep in !!
That apart I loved the book. It's a fast read and full of insights on a company which I personally knew very little about. However, this isn't a neutral view - criticism of Jack Ma is almost missing in the book.
A must read for anyone intrigued by the Global Chinese firm.
Profile Image for Arnab Padhi.
167 reviews25 followers
June 26, 2016
I picked the book for a little motivation and to know how Alibaba came into existence but Alas the book doesn't talk about that. It talks about how the author managed his stay in the company and at certain instances illustrates the ideologies of Jack Ma. The only notable feature of the book is "the forty points" or suggestions which the author donates to the reader. If you are looking Alibaba and its history right from its inception then this book won't give such insights.
Profile Image for Sony Mathew.
30 reviews3 followers
April 22, 2017
All about Alibaba's history and Jack Ma's vision, ambition and confidence. All the up's and down's of the company have also been portrayed as it is. Porter has presented all the facts and figures in a very nice and not at all boring way. Indeed the story of Alibaba is amazing as it rose from humble beginnings to the most valued company in the world.
88 reviews2 followers
November 7, 2020
Nếu bạn không biết gì về Alibaba và muốn có một cái nhìn khái quát về nó, đây sẽ là cuốn sách thích hợp. Nhưng với niềm hy vọng là mình sẽ học được bài học gì đó, tôi nhận ra cuốn sách chưa sâu sắc tới vậy, nó mang tính tóm tắt và kể lại nhiều hơn là truyền kinh nghiệm. Hay do tôi chưa có những trải nghiệm của một quản lý cấp cao nên mới thế?
37 reviews1 follower
March 27, 2016
not the greatest business book I read but I learnt interesting things. Moreover, it changes my vision of Chinese related business. Porter's standpoint isn't ideal as he was an insider, personally growing simultaneously with the company, therefore introducing bias.
Profile Image for Jingwei Shi.
48 reviews
May 4, 2020
One of the best books about Alibaba. It portrays Alibaba from an insider point of view. Many of the strengths and weaknesses of Alibaba were well explained. A definite must read for anyone who wants to learn more about Alibaba.
Profile Image for Jon.
159 reviews
July 9, 2015
A bit simplistic, but still great at providing insights to Jack Ma - who is unapproachable to many non-Chinese. A fast read, but don't expect anything particularly deep or insightful.
131 reviews2 followers
September 8, 2015
Excellent account (more an overview than an in-depth book) of the Alibaba story. Makes for an interesting read.
Profile Image for Bobby Punnen.
20 reviews7 followers
December 8, 2015
Once you read this, you will feel every entrepreneur is followings Jack's school of thoughts. A must read
Profile Image for Tommye.
66 reviews
December 9, 2020
Not much of interest in this tale. Better to read executive summary or Wikipedia report. Wanted to learn more about Alibaba but this is a slow read. And not very interesting.
Displaying 1 - 29 of 219 reviews

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