I must admit I've never visited Alibaba's site before Yahoo's acquisition. Which must be surprising since it is, after all, valued at a whooping $2.5bn! And that's a lot of money, esp. for a Chinese Internet start-up.
After spending a good 15 mins on the site, I must say I'm most impressed. While I can't comment on the valuation without more information), I must say it deserves to win every one of Forbes' "Best of the Web" Awards. If you haven't already, go check it out!
What's good about Alibaba:
- The design, feel and usabilty of Alibaba.com is on par and perhaps even superior to the likes of Amazon and eBay.
- Alibaba.com connects the world in a real and meaningful way; and it delivers with simplicity. On the site are listings of products and contact information. No registration, no credit card, no PayPal. It's your new and improved Yellowpages.
- The auction arm, Taobao.com, is really an e-commerce site for merchants. Comparing eachnet.com and taobao.com; it is not difficult to understand why the former is attracting traffic... Again, it's strength lies in usability and simplicity.
What could pose a problem:
- Management - How would you motivate someone like Jack Ma, who literally hit the jackpot? With his payout, he (and his future generations) can live like king forever in China... Founders cashing out is always a headache.
- eBay vs. Yahoo - If you read (and believe) the article on WSJ, you'd get a sense that Alibaba emerged as a "winner" from a chicken fight between eBay and Yahoo. It's great for the founders to cash out, but is it the best solution for the Company in the long run?
- Potential red flag - Why is the company not holding out for an IPO? Rather, why is it not issuing IPO instead? Baidu proved that the equity window is open... Is there something we don't know?
Nobody knows how the Internet will evolve, and particularly in China. Hence, nothing is a sure bet. But one thing is for sure: Jack Ma found his treasure.
Image Credit: http://www.alibaba-bb.com/Accueil.asp