Commerce

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, admitted on Sunday that he had never once used Taobao, the ebay-like flagship website for the ecommerce company he will be taking public later this year, writes Charles Clover and Ma Fangjing.

The odd sounding admission came in the middle of a rambling commencement speech to graduates of Tsinghua University on Sunday, in which he highlighted his humble origins and lack of professional experience. He needs to keep his emotional distance from his products, he said, so that he can make decisions about them objectively. And that apparently means not knowing how they work. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Alibaba, which filed for its US IPO on Tuesday, is frequently called the Amazon or eBay of China. But while there may be similarities in their business model, the online shopping experience for customers can be quite different indeed.

Here, a look at some of the things one finds on Alibaba’s various shopping platforms, how they differ from each other, and some of the ways in which they are vastly different from their western counterparts. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Alibaba on Tuesday submitted the first filing for its upcoming initial public offering in New York. Unusually for a private company, prospective investors already knew some of its key financial details, since Yahoo, its major shareholder, reports them as part of its quarterly results.

So what did we learn from the new filings? Read more

by Barney Jopson

Frustrated by not being able to dictate your shopping list to Amazon? Well, even if you weren’t, Jeff Bezos’s company has come up with a solution to the problem you never had.

The Seattle-based online retailer on Friday unveiled a new stapler-sized device called Dash that let’s you speak a list of groceries to your Amazon account, to which it is linked via Wi-Fi. Read more

The prospect of a US-based IPO by Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba has triggered a recent wave of short-term conjecture over the eye-watering figures involved.

A listing could garner as much as $25bn for example – making it the largest float in history. Wall Street banks could reap up to $400m in fees. Alibaba’s $170bn annual revenue now accounts for 2 per cent of China’s gross domestic product, and is bigger than those of eBay and Amazon combined.

 Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Square, the payments processing start-up, is looking for new users for its credit card device among the US’s growing Latino community.

The company, co-founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, is today unveiling Spanish language support and software in hopes of tapping into the purchasing power of America’s more than 50m Latinos. Read more

A man looks at the screen of his mobile phone at Pudong financial district in ShanghaiA new war is brewing between China’s three internet giants, known collectively as BAT – short for Baidu, the dominant search engine, Alibaba, which controls 80 per cent of China’s ecommerce, and Tencent, the gaming and social media juggernaut with a market capitalisation of $132bn. For Wang Ran, a blogger and founder of China eCapital, an investment bank, the competition between Didi Dache [“Honk Honk Taxi”], a Tencent taxi-hailing app, and Alibaba’s Kuadi Dache [“Fast taxi”] is “the first battle in the first world war of the internet”.

 Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Payments start-up Stripe is betting that retailers will leap at the chance to sell to an international audience, if only a company like Stripe were there to make it easier.

The company, run by Irish brothers John and Patrick Collison, is launching a feature allowing sellers who use its platform to price their goods in more than 130 currencies. Stripe takes a fee for the conversion, but handles the paperwork and bank transfers that can make cross-currency a hassle. Read more

A British tech entrepreneur has had his vision backed by a further $20.7m of US money, writes Andrew Bounds. Dan Wagner’s Powa group is developing a “revolutionary” ecommerce system that will allow customers to buy and order a product by photographing it with a smartphone.

PowaTag has attracted $96.5m in total, mainly from Boston-based fund Wellington Management, for around a quarter of the business. Read more