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How Alibaba (little-known outside China) became twice the size of Amazon

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In September 2014 Alibaba - a company few people outside of China has ever heard of - held the largest Initial Public Offering in history.

Today it’s the world’s biggest ecommerce firm with double the number of customers than the mighty Amazon. It is the second-most valuable internet company, trumped only by Google.

Author Porter Erisman was one of Alibaba’s first Western employees and its head of international marketing from 2000 to 20008.

In “Alibaba’s World” he discusses how the company grew into the juggernaut it is today and how it felt to be part of its exponential rise.

Erisman tells the story of how Alibaba founder Jack Ma, a Chinese schoolteacher who failed twice to make it into university, founded the firm in his tiny apartment and drove it to its current heights.

He shares anecdotes on the dotcom crash, battling Google and eBay, dealing with the erratic Chinese Communist Party and the nonsense advice of foreign “experts”.

Erisman analyses Alibaba’s head-start in a new world order where the focus is on the East and emerging markets.

Scroll down to listen to our interview of Erisman.

I always wanted to join a Chinese company that is going global.

Porter Erisman

Jack Ma makes decisions based on gut instinct.

Porter Erisman

The early days of Alibaba were complete and utter pandemonium. Even Jack Ma expected to hand over the company to more experienced managers within four years.

Porter Erisman

Jack tried to surround himself with experts, but it was a disaster. So we reverted back to the original founders; ordinary people with no special background. These ‘experts’ wanted me to take him out of the spotlight. They were wrong; it was refreshing that Jack Ma was speaking his mind. I never thought he was crazy; I told him to just be himself.

Porter Erisman

The founders who paid themselves $50 a month are now all billionaires!

Porter Erisman

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