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The Next Revolution: 3D XPoint™ non-volatile memories with speed and performance close to DRAM


June 20, 2017, Intel Online: How fast is Intel® Optane™ Memory? Performance results
Comparing two identical NUCs – one with Intel® Optane™ memory.




Overall system performance is
up to 28% faster6 7 8
Increase system performance for hard drive access
by up to 14x faster 9 7 8
Improve everyday task responsiveness
by 2x 6 7 8



Alibaba gets Tango for its push into the U.S. and the whole Western world

It is a further proof point that in 2014: Jack Ma (Alibaba) going against Jeff Bezos (Amazon) et al. [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Jan 8, 2014]. It is also a critical investment as Alibaba needs to have a market leading messaging and social networking app of its own to compete with the Facebook+WhatsApp combo. The aim of Tango after the huge $215M investment from Alibaba (which is giving them 21.5% majority stake) is no less than: 

… to build the WeChat of the Western world. We have all the WeChat features but each one of them is Westernized.

as was declared by Uri Raz, co-founder and CEO of Tango, in an interview to the Wall Sreet Journal. Quite an undertaking considering WhatsApp’s MAU (Monthly Active Users) of 450M and WeChat’s MAU of 355M versus that of the 70M+ MAU for Tango. Considering the details behind this announcement it is—nevertheless—quite feasible:

Tango Announcement [TangoME YouTube channel, March 19, 2014]

Tango announces a $280M round of funding led by Alibaba. Tango is a free mobile messaging service with 200M+ members. Through communication, social features and a compelling content platform, Tango members discover engaging ways to connect, get social and have fun. Download for FREE at http://www.tango.me on iOS, Android, Blackberry, Kindle Fire, and PC.

From TANGO AT-A-GLANCE [company fact sheet, March 19, 2014] 


 Total funding to date: $367M

  • Series A – $5M (June 2010). Investors:
     MXB Holdings
     WR Hambrecht
     Long Sea Limited
  • Series B – $42M (June 2011). Investors: 4 
     DFJ
     SPA Special Investment Fund
  • Series C – $40M (March 2012). Investors:
     AI SMS
     Qualcomm
     DFJ
     Long Sea Limited
  • Series D – $280M (March 2014). Investors:
     Alibaba [$215M from Alibaba according to Wall Street Journal, which is giving a 21.5% majority stake as the company was valued at the time of Series D founding at $1B]
     DFJ
     Qualcomm Ventures
     Access Industries
     Translink Capital
     Toms Capital
     Jerry Yang
     Bill Tai
     Alex Zubillaga

Tango’s Latest News: A Vision of The Future and a $280M Funding Round [by Uri and Eric  in Tango Me Blog, March 19, 2014], note that my inserts below are from TANGO AT-A-GLANCE [company fact sheet, March 19, 2014] and the TangoME YouTube channel

We launched Tango in September 2009 out of the personal need to stay connected to our own families. It helped tremendously that both of us came from deep video technology backgrounds and had strong entrepreneurial spirits. But it was the emotional connection with family living in other parts of the world that inspired our mission here at Tango. Back then we felt that free online communication through texts, voice and video calls would remove barriers and change the world. The world agreed: we signed up our first million members in the first 10 days after launch.

Since then, we have been on quite a journey. The sheer power of free communication has changed the way we connect with others. Today, the amount of texting from over-the-top messaging apps surpasses carrier SMS. We’re proud that Tango has become a part of this industry disruption and even more excited that Tango has become a preferred place for our members to communicate and share with friends and family.

According to China’s Alibaba Invests $215 Million in Startup Tango [The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2014]

Last summer, Alibaba began blocking merchants on Taobao and Tmall from using WeChat to send promotional messages to shoppers. Tencent, meanwhile, added mobile payments last year and has been offering more services and shopping options on WeChat.

There are no immediate plans to connect the Tango app with the company’s various e-commerce services, though that could come over time, said a person familiar with the plans. Tango will operate separately from Laiwang.

Tango also expands Alibaba’s portfolio of fast-growing U.S. startups as the Chinese company tries to gain a foothold here. It led investments last year in app search-engine Quixey Inc. and two-day shipping provider ShopRunner Inc.

Alibaba’s cash will help Tango, based in Mountain View, Calif., to double its workforce to more than 300 this year and open up its service to more outside developers, Chief Executive Uri Raz said.

Mr. Raz said he began adding other services, such as games and photo sharing, after seeing the success of Asian texting apps such as WeChat, Kakao and Line. “We were looking at what happened in Japan and China,” Mr. Raz said. “It was the first time since 1999 that I saw the speed of innovation happening faster over there than here.”

From TANGO AT-A-GLANCE [company fact sheet, March 19, 2014]

What is Tango
Headquartered in Mountain View, Calif.
Tango is consistently in the top 25 on Google Play and top 100 in the iTunes App Store.
Tango is available in 14 languages and has subscribers in more than 224 countries with nearly one third of its members in the U.S.
Basic Stats
Year founded: 2009
Number of users: 200M+ (if Tango were a country it would be the 5th largest in the world)
Daily user base growth: 325K (average)
Monthly active users [MAU]: 70M+
[note that WhatsApp bought by Facebook has MAU of 450M and Alibaba’s major competitor Tencent’s WeChat MAU of 355M]

Global breakdown based on DAU
 27% U.S. (North America 31%)
 20% Asia
 12% Europe
 29% Middle East
 8% Other

Platform user base demographics:
 Gender neutral
 Over half between the ages 25-44
Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, PC
Coverage: 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi
Number of iPhone/iPad users: 40% (whole user base)
Number of Android users: 60% (whole user base)
App store ranking:
 4.3 stars on Google Play
 4.5 stars on iTunes
Number of patents: 30 (4 approved – 26 pending)
 Appy Awards: Best Communication App 2013
 About.com: Reader’s Choice 2013
 Webby nomination 2013
 Verizon’s Must Have Apps list 2013
Number of employees: 160
Total funding to date: $367M
Partners: 40+ game partners, 10+ Direct advertising partners, and Spotify on Music Messaging

While we’ve made progress on our mission to enable people to communicate, share and feel more connected, we are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible. The opportunity for Tango goes well beyond just providing a messaging app for free communications. We see an even bigger opportunity – one where people can have access to free communication, social networking features and enjoyable content – all within a single platform.

Over the past eight months, Tango has evolved.

  • We’ve introduced a content platform that is now home to more than 30 games.

My inserts here:
Connect & Play with Tango [TangoME YouTube channel, June 18, 2013]

Tango is partnering with Gameloft, Bubble Gum Interactive, and other world-class developers to bring great games to their messaging app.

– Games developed for Tango: 35+ games live
– Game developers for Tango: 50+ developers signed

  • We’ve introduced new social networking features that allow members to share updates or photos and to find new friends.

My insert here:
Find Friends Nearby with Tango [TangoME YouTube channel, July 18, 2013]

  • And we’ve introduced social music sharing through integration with Spotify, which means members can now send each other songs.

My inserts here:
Tango powered by Spotify video [TangoME YouTube channel, Nov 11, 2013]

Search, listen and share songs with your friends.

Tango music video featuring recording artist Riz – the first of its kind to be recorded using Google Glass [RizVEVO YouTube channel, Nov 11, 2013]

This is the FIRST ever music video shot entirely using Google Glass.

– Total Music Played: hundreds of millions

According to China’s Alibaba Invests $215 Million in Startup Tango [The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2014]

Tango joined with outside developers, such as game maker Gameloft Inc. and music-streaming service Spotify AB, to offer users a range of virtual activities inside the app. For example, Tango users can share 30-second clips of their favorite songs from Spotify or compete with their friends for the high score in the Gameloft title “Candy Block Breaker.” The company shares the revenue from purchases made inside the apps with the developers.

By the end of this year, Tango plans to open its software code to allow any outside developer to build games and other services for its users, Mr. Raz said.

The startup is also bolstering its revenue through mobile advertising. Last December, it began working with Twitter Inc.’s MoPub unit to sell ads within users’ news feeds and message inboxes, promoting apps made by Zynga Inc. and others.

Quite honestly, the results have blown us away. We’re excited by the 2x increase in daily engagement since last July. And we love it that our members are huge fans of music and love to send hundreds of millions of songs to their friends through Tango. These changes are reflected in huge growth in registered users: over the last year we’ve doubled to more than 200 million.

The way we see it, this is just the beginning for Tango. We believe that messaging apps will fundamentally change the way content and services are distributed. We are very excited to continue to build upon our foundation of free communications, while extending into new growth areas in social networking and content. We know that we can’t do it on our own, and for that reason, we couldn’t be more excited to announce our newest investor, Alibaba Group.

According to China’s Alibaba Invests $215 Million in Startup Tango [The Wall Street Journal, March 20, 2014]

While the company has an office in Beijing and has seen rising usage in Thailand and Hong Kong, Asia isn’t currently a main area of focus for the company, Mr. Raz said.

Mr. Setton says the alliance with Alibaba will give Tango market insights that will help it beat rivals to new trends.

Rather than take on WeChat in China, Mr. Raz said he’s more focused on perfecting the model for U.S. users.

We want to build the WeChat of the Western world,” Mr. Raz said. “We have all the WeChat features but each one of them is Westernized.”

Together with some of our prior investors, Alibaba has lead a $280 million Series D funding round. [$215M from Alibaba according to Wall Street Journal, which is giving a 21.5% majority stake as the company was valued at the time of Series D founding at $1B.] As part of this financing, Michael Zeisser from Alibaba will join our Board of Directors. We welcome Alibaba’s investment in Tango. We know that we will be able to benefit from Alibaba’s expertise.

More on Tango as it is:

Tango – Connect, Get Social, Have Fun! [TangoME YouTube channel, March 12, 2014]

Tango is a free mobile messaging service with 200 million members. Through communication, social features and a compelling content platform, Tango members discover engaging ways to connect, get social and have fun. Tango is available on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, Blackberry, Kindle Fire and PC and works across platforms and networks. Download the app at http://www.tango.me.

Let’s Play – Tango [TangoME YouTube channel, Feb 21, 2014]

The award-winning messaging app now powers games around the world. Connect & Play with hundreds of millions of people around the world! Play with Tango!

Tango Free Voice, Video, and Text [TangoME YouTube channel, Sept 10, 2012]

Now you can send pictures with all of your Tango friends, or try playing out new game during a video call!

and its first year anniversary was proudly celebrated with the following achievements: Tango Turns One! [TangoME YouTube channel, Sept 30, 2011]

Check out the many milestones Tango achieved it’s first year out to market!

Tango’s market position as per Since Facebook Owns WhatsApp, Here Are 5 Alternative Messaging Services [ReadWrite, Feb 25, 2014]

You shouldn’t feel forced to relinquish your messaging data to Facebook.

Facebook stunned the tech world last week when it scooped up the messaging application WhatsApp for $19 billion.

The deal was largely heralded as a win for both sides: Facebook gained a much-needed service it hasn’t yet delivered on, and the small startup cashed in big time. But the downside of the acquisition fell heavily on the shoulders of users—those 450 million people [MAUmonthly active users] whose private data is now in the hands of Facebook.

If you’re a WhatsApp user who wants to break up with Facebook, or someone looking for a great new messaging application, we’ve put together a list of mobile messaging apps you should try.


Almost five million people signed up for Telegram after Facebook bought WhatsApp. As a messaging service, it is sleek and easy to use. 

Telegram, which is built by a Berlin-based nonprofit, is cloud-based and heavily encrypted so users can use several devices to access their messages and documents including both mobile and desktop. The company also claims Telegram is a free service that will remain so in the future, meaning no advertisements or subscription fees will ever be levied on customers.

Telegram is available on iOS and Android. Developers can access and implement the app’s API through Telegram’s open source code.


Snapchat’s sophisticated competitor Wickr brings government-strength security and encryption to your messages. Wickr lets you send self-destructing messages, documents, photos, videos and voice calls that disappear after a select amount of time.

Wickr is entirely anonymous, as the application doesn’t ask for any of your personal information. Wickr is also exceeds top secret and HIPAA compliance, so people in medical, law enforcement, and journalism fields can feel confident using Wickr for secure messaging knowing it can’t be traced or reproduced. 

Wickr is available on iOS and Android.


Line is one of the most popular messaging services on the market for free voice and video calling. 

The app is massively popular internationally, especially in Asia, and it finally entered the U.S. market earlier this year. Line is more than just a simple messaging application—it has branched out to offer in-app games and a variety of standalone apps like Line Camera and Line Tools. While the app is free, additional services like stickers and games provide revenue for the company. In the first quarter of 2013, Line made $17 million off sticker sales alone

Line is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry


Kik is the world’s first messaging application with a built-in browser. The application boasts over 100 million users, a majority coming from North America and Western Europe.

Kik has over 30 HTML5 experiences built into the application for sharing pictures, videos and gaming, according to the company, and recently launched the in-app browser. Kik has also created open source tools to help developers build and optimize their websites for mobile. 

Kik is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry.


Tango, like Line, offers an all-inclusive social app with games, music, video, and voice and text messaging. The San Francisco-based company says the app has 150 million [200 million as of March 19, 2014] users. 

Because of the additional features that extend beyond voice calling and messaging, users of more traditional messaging services like WhatsApp may find the interface a bit confusing, but users can personalize their profiles to find and make friends or discover people you may know nearby. 

Tango is available on iOS, Android and Windows Phone [was on WP7 back in 2011, but it is not on WP8].

Breaking Up Is Hard

It’s inconvenient to switch to an entirely new messaging service, especially if all your friends are dedicated to one app. But you shouldn’t feel forced to turn over your data to Facebook either. All these applications provide messaging services that rival WhatsApp, without the commitment to Facebook services, meaning you’re not turning over your mobile phone book and payment information to the social network in exchange for an efficient messaging service.

Amazon may hike Prime cost as earnings disappoint and further challenges lay ahead of the company for which it needs to adjust its business model and expand its operations

… first time after 9 years

The main attraction of Prime is that the shipping service is bundled with a mature streaming video service for the price of Netflix’ service only:
Amazon or Netflix [Brent Byron YouTube channel, Dec 5, 2012]

Comparison of Amazon prime and Netflix streaming video services. Both amazon and netflix have movies and tv shows, some of the same titles, but netflix has many more movies available than amazon (20,000 vs 12,000). You can also bundle the dvd service with streaming service on netflix. Price is similar for the two services. Amazon gives free shipping on some items with prime accounts, but has no dvd rental service, just streaming. I’m an affiliate of netflix.

but wait:

Considering joining Amazon Prime for the free shipping and free streaming video service this holiday season? Here’s why you may want to rethink that move…
Tom Forte, Telsey Advisory Group; David Pearl, Epoch Investment Partners; Natali Morris, independent technology reporter; and CNBC’s Jon Fortt discuss Amazon’s fourth quarter earnings report.

Amazon.com posted quarterly results Thursday that fell short of expectations and handed in a weak revenue outlook.

Additionally, Amazon said during its conference call it may increase the cost of its popular Amazon Prime subscription by $20 to $40 due to higher fuel and other shipping costs.

There were no immediate details on when or how Amazon would make the decision during the call. The company did not disclose the exact number of Prime customers.

“We have added massive selection and digital content to the service—Kindle owners lending library, Prime instant video,” according to CFO Thomas Szkutak during the call. “It’s great value for customers. We see customers love it and we will continue to make that better over time.”

In December, Amazon said that its Prime service had a “record-setting holiday season.” According to the company, more than 1 million people signed up in the third week of December alone. Prime members get free two-day shipping on eligible items, free streaming of 150,000-plus movies and TV episodes, and free e-book borrowing from a library of more than 475,000 titles.

The world’s largest Internet retailer posted earnings of 51 cents a share on sales of $25.59 billion, versus expectations for 66 cents a share on sales of $26.06 billion, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

In addition, the company posted current-quarter sales guidance of between $18.2 billion and $19.9 billion, missing expectations for $19.67 billion.

The company said international sales gained just 13 percent, lower than Wall Street forecasts for around 14 percent to 15 percent.

Shares initially shed nearly 10 percent in extended-hours trading before gradually recovering from lows. The stock rallied nearly 5 percent during the regular session Thursday. (Click here to get the latest quotes.)

The stock has had a stellar run since the lows of 2009, with shares surging close to the $400 mark by the end of 2013.

“It’s a good time to be an Amazon customer. You can now read your Kindle gate-to-gate, get instant on-device tech support via our revolutionary Mayday button, and have packages delivered to your door even on Sundays,” said CEO Jeff Bezos in the company’s press release. “In just the last weeks, Forrester, YouGov, and ForeSee have all ranked Amazon #1—and we believe we’re just scratching the surface of what world-class customer service can be.”

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon plans to move into the mobile payments business, offering brick-and-mortar retailers a checkout system that uses Kindle tables as soon as this summer, citing sources.

Recently, Amazon also expanded its grocery delivery service to two new U.S. cities, introduced Sunday package delivery with the Postal Service and reached agreements to build warehouses in several states.

Amazon Prime TV Commercial via @RichBTIG [BTIGResearch YouTube channel, Jan 2, 2014]

Aired on IFC network on 12/29/13 Richard Greenfield & Brandon Ross, BTIG http://www.btigresearch.com

From Amazon.com’s Management Discusses Q4 2013 Results – Earnings Call Transcript [Seeking Alpha, Jan 30, 2014]

Tom Szkutak – Chief Financial Officer, Senior Vice President:

For Q1 2014, we expect net sales of between $18.2 billion and $19.9 billion or growth of between 13% and 24%. This guidance anticipates approximately 30 basis points of unfavorable impact from foreign exchange rates.

GAAP operating income, or loss to be between a $200 million loss and $200 million in income, compared to $181 million in income in the first quarter 2013. This includes approximately $350 million for stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets.

We anticipate consolidated segment operating income, which excludes stock-based compensation and other operating expense to be between a $150 million loss and $850 million, compared with $441 million in the first quarter of 2013. We launched Prime in the U.S. nine years ago with free, unlimited two-day shipping on one main items in an annual membership priced at $79. Today Prime Selection is growing to over 19 million items.

Even as fuel and transportation cost have increased, the $79 price has remained the same. We know the customers love Prime as the usage of the shipping benefit has increased dramatically since launch. On a per customer basis, Prime members are ordering more items across more categories with free two-day shipping than ever before.

With the increased cost of fuel, transportation as well as the increased usage among Prime members were considering increasing the price of Prime between $20 to $40 in the U.S.

In terms of details of how we would roll out the Prime price increase that we are considering, you have to wait on that, but certainly as I mentioned, it’s something that we haven’t had any increase in the nine years. Customers certainly love Prime.

The available units for shipment have grown dramatically from one million to over 19 million over the last nine years. We haven’t had any price increase. Customer usage, on a per customer basis, has gone up pretty dramatically, given the selection and the convenience of the service. So that’s why we are considering, of course during this nine year period, shipping cost have gone up a lot, fuel cost have gone up a lot. So that’s certainly the basis for us taking a look at it but in terms of the details, we will be back when we make those decisions back to customers.

We have added a lot of new services to Prime beyond this shipping benefits you mentioned it owners and then library. Certainly video, Prime Instant Video we are investing very heavily, and so those are certainly costly. Those aren’t the reasons for the price increases that were contemplating. That decision again is just based on – we have not done our price increase nine years. Shipping costs have gone up if you look back very considerably over the nine-year period.

Customers like the service, they are using it a lot more and we have a lot more selection. They are using it lot more and so that’s the reason why we are looking at the increase.

In terms of the international growth, the growth was solid, with revenue [exchange] of 15%. The unit growth was considerably faster than that, primarily because third-party growth we saw very strong and certainly FBA [Fulfillment by Amazon – Build your Business with Amazon Services] is a component of that and when you think about the capacity that we built it for not only for retail, but also for our third parties and we are able to offer your our FBA items through Prime as well, so we are very happy with the capacity that we have built across the world, including our international operations and that’s reflect in the results that you are seeing.

Yes, we like it the way it is. Yes. But again, if you look back at what we have done, you can’t expect that we might do going forward, but certainly we have had, in the U.S., Prime in place for nine years. We have added a massive selection during that time period. We have also added, this is on the physical side and we have also added digital content as well to the service in the U.S. with Kindle Owners’ Lending Library as well as Prime Instant Video and so it’s a great value for customers. We see that customers love it and we are going to continue to try and make that even better for customers over time.

We are seeing customers like the digital content. We are seeing great engagement, we are not breaking out in terms of the form, but again we are seeing great engagement. We do track very closely the Prime customers to come from free trials for examples.

They come through the pipeline for digital content from free trial standpoint, we track those conversions and we see that’s growing very nicely. We do look at customers that use our Prime Instant Video, what are their shopping patterns look like both side of digital content.

Beyond the free content we have on there, do they buy more digital content and certainly we are seeing nice growth in digital content because of that, because they do. They also do a lot of shopping physical categories as well, so those things we are tracking very closely and it’s a great pipeline for us as customers look at the total value proposition for Prime, including digital content.

Amazon Prime Instant Video VS Netflix Streaming [DaVirtualGeek YouTube channel, Jan 23, 2014]

A quick look at the differences between the two popular streaming services Amazon Instant Video and Netflix. More Details Below. Pricing and Selection: Netflix Streaming: $7.99 per month or $95.88 Annually. Netflix says, “We have thousands of other movies & TV episodes available to watch instantly ” Amazon Instant Video (Included with Amazon Prime) $79.99 per year. $39.99 per year for students. Amazon says they have, “41,000 movies & TV episodes” JOIN Amazon Prime Student FREE: http://www.amazon.com/gp/student/signup/info?ie=UTF8&refcust=WS5HDYTCDR66IVLIYTE55GDU2U&ref_type=generic

From: Amazon.com Announces Fourth Quarter Sales up 20% to $25.59 Billion [press release, Jan 30, 2013]


  • Amazon announced a record-setting holiday season for Amazon Prime, the annual membership program with tens of millions of members worldwide. Amazon is working hard to increase capacity for the Prime program. In December, Prime was so popular that Amazon limited new Prime membership signups during peak periods.
  • Prime Instant Video selection increased from 33,000 to more than 40,000 movies and TV episodes in 2013.
  • Selection in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library in 2013 grew from 250,000 books to more than 475,000 books-books that Kindle owners with a Prime membership can borrow for free with no due dates.

About Amazon.com

… The new Kindle Fire HDX features a stunning exclusive 7” or 8.9” HDX display, a quad-core 2.2 GHz processor, 2x more memory, and 11 hours of battery life, as well as exclusive new features of Fire OS 3.0 including X-Ray for Music, Second Screen, Prime Instant Video downloads, and the revolutionary new Mayday button. The all-new Kindle Fire HD includes an HD display, high-performance processor and dual speakers at a breakthrough price. …

Related (only for the last 365 days):

More than a billion units worldwide were ordered from Marketplace Sellers, including local businesses of all sizes, on Amazon during 2013

The number of active Marketplace Sellers using the Fulfillment byAmazon service grew more than 65 percent year-over-year worldwide

Amazon today announced a record-setting year for Marketplace Sellers with businesses of all sizes selling on Amazon. In 2013, Marketplace Sellers on Amazon sold more than a billion units worldwide, cumulatively worth tens of billions of dollars. Marketplace Sellers around the world also continued rapid adoption of Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), a service that Marketplace Sellers can choose to have Amazon ship their products directly to customers and offer Amazon Prime benefits, FREE Shipping, simple exporting to customers around the world, easy returns for orders placed on Amazon and great customer service. The number of active Marketplace Sellers using the FBA service grew more than 65 percent year-over-year worldwide.

The Amazon Marketplace, which consists of more than 2 million Marketplace Sellers of all sizes worldwide, experienced record growth during the busy holiday selling season. On Cyber Monday, more than 13 million units were ordered worldwide from Marketplace Sellers on Amazon, growing the total units ordered by over 50 percent year-over-year.

“It has been an incredible year for Marketplace Sellers including popular brands and businesses of all sizes selling on Amazon. Our customers have told us they appreciate the hundreds of millions of products listed by Marketplace Sellers that range from all types of apparel to a vast selection of electronics items,” said Peter Faricy, VP for Amazon Marketplace. “Our goal every day is to make selling onAmazon as easy as possible. Fulfillment by Amazon is a wonderful service as it gives all Marketplace Sellers the option of warehousing their inventory in our fulfillment center network. It has been a game changer for sellers because their items become eligible for Prime benefits, which drives their sales and benefits consumers with additional Prime selection.”

“We experienced explosive sales growth for items listed on Amazon, 10x sales increases in some cases, when offering attractive holiday deals. For many items, all available inventory was sold out within an hour of the deal posting! We are already making selling on Amazon a core component of our marketing and sales planning for holiday 2014 and beyond,” said Mike Mitchell, COO for MMP Living, a home goods and toy retailer based in Colorado. “By leveraging Amazon’s FBA program we were able to focus on sourcing and offering products of the highest quality, knowing that Amazon’s world-class infrastructure will handle getting our products out to customers quickly. With the focus always on the customer coupled with the fastPrime Shipping options, Amazon is second to none.”

Prime Instant Video to be the exclusive subscription streaming home for Veronica Mars TV show in deal with Warner Bros. domestic Television Distribution

With Prime Instant Video fans can catch-up on all three seasons of the Veronica Mars series before the movie debut on March 14

Exclusive film distribution deal brings A24 movies such as Spring Breakers and The Bling Ring to Prime Instant Video

Deal includes Vikings, the #1 new cable series of the year in the U.S. along with popular MGM films for Prime members to stream instantly

Amazon Prime members can now watch Under the Dome episodes on an unlimited basis just four days after their initial broadcast

Under the Dome is also available for purchase and download exclusively on Amazon Instant Video

Prime members now have access to even more episodes of NOVA,Masterpiece, and documentaries from Ken Burns along with PBS KIDS programs such as Caillou, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood andWild Kratts

PBS KIDS programming available to customers with Kindle FreeTime Unlimited

Prime Instant Video is adding thousands of episodes fromNickelodeon, Nick Jr., MTV and COMEDY CENTRAL—including a collection of subscription TV shows customers won’t find anywhere else—with favorite kids shows like Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!,Blue’s Clues and The Backyardigans, all available to Kindle Fire customers with FreeTime Unlimited

Multi-year deal will bring Amazon customers the TV shows and movies they want to watch, when they want to watch them, and on any device they want to watch them on—including Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, Roku and more

Also as a part of the agreement with NBCUniversal, popular children’s shows including Curious George and Land Before Time will be available to customers with Kindle FreeTime Unlimited

Prime Instant Video is now home to previous seasons of popular shows like Rachael Ray’s Week in a Day, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Cupcake Wars, House Hunters, Iron Chef America, Chopped, and Throwdown With Bobby Flay

This is the first online-only subscription distribution deal for Scripps Networks Interactive

Fan-favorite series The Shield will also join the Prime Instant Video catalog for Amazon Prime members to instantly stream at no additional cost

Amazon recently announced that PBS favorite series Downton Abbeyand the anticipated summer series Under the Dome from CBS will soon be available exclusively on Prime Instant Video

Amazon Prime members now have more of their favorite CBS series to choose from for instant streaming, at no additional cost on hundreds of devices

New programming now available to Amazon Prime members includes America’s Next Top Model, Everybody Loves Raymond, Undercover Boss, United States of Tara and more

New TV series based on Stephen King novel and produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television to premiere on CBS Television Network in June

Amazon Prime members will have unlimited access to series episodes just four days after broadcast and Under the Dome will also be available for purchase and download exclusively on Amazon Instant Video

Subscription streaming of “Downton Abbey” — the most watched TV series of all time on Prime Instant Video — to become exclusive toAmazon

2014: Jack Ma (Alibaba) going against Jeff Bezos (Amazon) et al.

What will happen in 2014 on the U.S. e-commerce market as a consequence of that?

This is something new to you? I suggest to read first my previous three analyses:
The Upcoming Mobile Internet Superpower [Aug 13, 2013]
The value of Taobao.com and TMall.com in China, as well as outside [Sept 2, 2013]
Alibaba to secure “centuries” of the future of an already “US$150 billion ecosystem of consumers, merchants and business partners” via an internal partnership (rejuvenated each year) of top executive owners (with just 10% of shares) also controlling the board [Oct 3, 2013]
If still in doubt read Amazon Vs. Alibaba: Game On [Seeking Alpha, Dec 26, 2013]

1. In 2013 the following strategic investments were already done in the U.S.:


2. Also because Jack Ma [is] Person of the Year by the Financial Times [CCTV News YouTube channel, Dec 30, 2013] for very good reasons

According to the Financial Times Person of the year: Jack Ma [Dec 12, 2013] this was given for a number of reasons from which I will quote only the following two excerpts:

Alibaba’s sales now exceed those of eBay and Amazon combined and make up about 2 per cent of China’s gross domestic product. Seventy per cent of all Chinese package deliveries come from Alibaba sales. Roughly 80 per cent of Chinese ecommerce transactions are conducted through Alibaba’s sites. And this is probably just the beginning, considering more than half of China is still offline. With 600m people using the internet and counting, China will soon overtake the US as the world’s biggest ecommerce market.

That 2% of China’s GDP would be about US$177 billions (given the forecast of 7.6% growth for 2013 and US$ 8230 billion for 2012 as per http://www.tradingeconomics.com/china/gdp). According to China’s economy projected to grow steadily, dynamically: economists [Xinhua, Jan 6, 2014]: “China was likely to maintain steady growth of 7.5 percent to 8 percent in real terms in 2014”. This means that Alibaba’s sales only (i.e. without Alibaba’s financial services, see below) contribution to China’s 2014 GDP could easily surpass US$200 billions by the end of this year.

Mr Ma is now setting his eyes on a new goal: shaking up Chinese finance. This has sent shockwaves through the staid, state-dominated financial sector and shows that his ambitions extend well beyond online retail.

3. Indeed, these January 2014 quotes from the Chinese media are providing extraordinary evidence regarding Jack Ma’s new goal of shaking up Chinese finance:

Tuning up for 2014 reform (2) [Jan 5]:
Carr at North Square Blue Oak … points out that e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s Yu’ebao fund lured 100 billion yuan($16.5 billion) away from the country’s bank deposits in just four months.
“New innovative financial products such as this are already causing quite a lot of disruption to the financial system,” she says.
China Exclusive: Internet finance transforms China’s financial landscape [Jan 7]:
Last year was widely seen as “ground zero for Chinese Internet finance,” partly because of the phenomenon involving “Yu’E Bao (Leftover Treasure)”, a personal online finance product introduced in June by Internet giant Alibaba. It allows users to place their driblet savings — no less than one yuan — into a money market fund.
As of the end of 2013, Yu’E Bao had 43.03 million users with aggregate deposits of 185.3 billion yuan (30.4 billion U.S. dollars), the biggest single public fund in China. Internet finance has for the first time become part of life for many Chinese people.
China to set up fully private banks in 2014: CBRC [Jan 6]:
China will set up three to five fully private banks on a trial basis this year in a bid to further open up the banking sector to domestic and foreign capital, China’s banking regulator said Monday.
Private capital will be introduced to restructure current banking institutions or set up new ones bearing their own risks, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said in a work meeting.
Strict procedures and standards will be set for the pilots, with demanding set-up criteria, limited licenses, enhanced supervision and a risk handling system, according to the CBRC.
The CBRC will try to relax the threshold for foreign capital to enter China’s banking sector and ease Renminbi operation requirements, while more policies will be issued to support banking reform in the Shanghai free trade zone and financial reform pilot zone.
Tech in China 2013: High Hopes of Disrupting Domestic Financial Market excerpt #1:
The reform plan China’s central government released in November 2013 allows qualified private investors to set up banks.
Shanda, the veteran online gaming company, is the first Internet company that settled in the newly established Shanghai Free Trade Zone, planning to build Internet-based financial business and a joint bank there.
3rd payment firms enter the fray [Jan 7]:
Third-party payment companies, after a decade of fast development, are providing not only payment services but also services traditionally provided by banks, such as loans.
Among these companies, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd – China’s largest e-commerce company – has gone further than others. Alibaba plans to set up Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services Group to consolidate its online payment and micro loan businesses, and provide financial services for consumers and small and micro enterprises – those with an annual turnover of less than 30 million yuan (4.8 million U.S. dollars).
The company has made it clear that its two main business arms will be e-commerce and financial services based on its huge e-commerce data. The latter is thought to be a challenge to banks and may change the financial industry landscape due to the use of Internet technology and the huge amount of data that records users’ history and habits.
“For the past 13 years, Alibaba hasn’t thought of challenging anyone, but creating something new instead,” Alibaba’s Chairman Jack Ma said at an industry forum late March when asked whether his company aims to challenge banks.
“Banks are getting a bit nervous. But I think that getting nervous is good, and it would be strange if they aren’t,” Ma said.
“If banks weren’t nervous, China’s small and micro businesses would be nervous,” Ma added, hinting that banks fail to provide enough services to help small and micro enterprises raise funds.

Last year [i.e. in 2013], the total transaction volume processed by third-party payment companies reached 3.8 trillion yuan [$628B], an increase of 76 percent year-on-year, according to domestic research company Analysys International.
While the biggest player in the sector, Alipayoriginally acted only as an escrow between sellers and buyers, third-party payment companies are now offering a wide range of services, such as payment and settlement services, and micro loans.
Alibaba plans to launch a credit payment service for its mobile users, which gives them a certain credit limit based on their Alipay records.
Tech in China 2013: High Hopes of Disrupting Domestic Financial Market  excerpt #2:
It takes only one click to transfer the balance in an Alipay account to Yuebao on either the website or the mobile app, Alipay Wallet. The mutual fund is managed by THFund, a mutual fund company Alibaba bought a controlling stake in in 2013 —  THFund raised to the second biggest mutual fund company in terms of the total assets under management in 2013, up from lower than 50th one year ago, thanks to Yuebao. Users can use the money in Yuebao for online shopping anytime they like.
Yuebao’s slogan is “14 times of the return from banks”. It sounds attractive, but Yuebao doesn’t perform better than the average mutual funds. The convenience must be a key factor in attracting users. Another attractiveness is Yuebao shows returns daily.
Tech in China 2013: High Hopes of Disrupting Domestic Financial Market excerpt #3:
Apart from running a mutual fund by using user’s balance, there’s a bigger picture for Alipay.
Before long, several Chinese Internet companies launched online mutual funds and gave them similar names, such as Suning’s Yifubao, but none could be the same with Yuebao.
Alipay itself was established for Alibaba’s e-commerce marketplaces. When one user uses money in Yuebao for shopping on Alibaba’s platforms, that will be translated into transaction-based commission to Alibaba. If Yuebao is widely recognized and users would always deposit money into it, users don’t have to make payments through banks anymore. When it comes to the mutual fund itself, the more users on board and more money tansferred into it, the lower, theoretically, the risk.
Fan Zhiming, president of Alifinance for Domestic Market, said at an event last month that they’d possibly make Yuebao a default that any balance in an Alipay account would buy the mutual fund automatically.
Alifinance, the finance arm of Alibaba Group, has already disrupted China’s finance sector with services like Alipay and small loans for online retailers.
WeChat to face tougher competition in 2014 [Jan 2]
Instant messaging app WeChat has helped Chinese internet giant Tencent become the first company to secure a position in the mobile internet market, but it is expected to face greater competition from rivals, the Shanghai-based First Financial Daily reports.
One of the chief rivals is the Alibaba Group. An employee of the e-commerce business leader told the newspaper that the company was planning to target WeChat in four areastelecom services, its own IM app Laiwang [with a free data plan], vendors on its online platforms, and through the celebrities using the Sina Weibo microblogging service.
Sina and Alipay Launches Weibo Payment, to Fight against WeChat Payment [Jan 7]
Sina launched a payment solution, Weibo Payment, together with Alipay today. It is already available with the 4.2 version of Sina Weibo app released yesterday. Fan Zhiming , head of Alifinance for Domestic Market, made it clear that Weibo Payment is aimed at WeChat Payment when it comes to the convenience of making payments online or offline, and social shopping. He asked the audience to “forget about WeChat Payment” at the press conference today, saying Weibo Payment will perform better.
From now on all the items from Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall shared or shown as ads on Sina Weibo will have a “buy” button that will lead users to make payments directly with Alipay.

Alibaba, the parent company of Alipay, made a strategic investment in Sina Weibo last year, with not only cash but also a promise of bringing in no less than $380 million worth of advertising revenue for Sina Weibo through displaying Taobao/Tmall items in the next three years.

4. No wonder that Alipay has made significant inroads into the U.S. market during 2013:

    • Airlines, hotels and other travel enterprises can now easily connect to the more than 800 million Chinese account holders on the Alipay platform via the UATP Network.
    • Alipay is dedicated to meeting the needs of China’s vast and growing pool of keen overseas travelers by making it easier for them to pay for air tickets, book hotels, rent cars and make other travel-related purchases online from the world’s leading airlines and accredited travel agencies.”


    • Among the U.S. online retailers that’s begun accepting Alipay this year is iHerb Inc., No. 204 in the Internet Retailer. In the first six months of accepting the Chinese payment method, iHerb’s sales on the cn.iHerb.com subdomain of its web site aimed at Chinese consumers increased 244.52% compared with the prior six-month period and 684.15% compared with the same period a year earlier
    • Without disclosing the total number of U.S. sites accepting Alipay … there are about 10 web sites in the U.S. that already are generating more than 100 Alipay transactions per day. They include the e-commerce sites of retailers Gap Inc. Direct, No. 19 in the 2013 Top 500, and Forever 21, No. 353; travel site Travelzoo; web domain registrar GoDaddy and peerTransfer, which handles tuition payments for international students.
    • Meantime Alibaba Microfinance Service Group’s share structure revealed [Xinhua, Nov, 2013] which will clearly help in capitalisation of Alipay for U.S. expansion as well:
HANGZHOU, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — Jack Ma, founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, holds less than 7.3 percent of shares in the newly founded Alibaba Microfinance Service Group, revealed a shareholding structure report on Friday.
Forty percent of the shares are held by over 20,000 staff of the Alibaba Group and the Alibaba Microfinance Service Group, said the report.
That 40 percent, part of an incentives scheme to make “all staff shareholders,” includes Ma’s shares.
Ma also holds 7.3 percent of shares in the Alibaba Group.
The other Alibaba Microfinance shares are expected to be acquired by strategic investors in the future, according to the report.
Alibaba set up the Microfinance Service Group in March to integrate its payment and micro payment businesses.
The Alibaba Microfinance Group is not included in the portfolio of Alibaba Group’s much-discussed initial public offering.

5. As in addition to all that and according to How Alibaba Views International Expansion and Mobile: A Discussion With Joe Tsai [Forbes, Dec 11, 2013] 

One man who was with Jack from the beginning was Joe Tsai.  Alibaba’s longtime CFO, Joe recently moved up to Vice Chairman of the group and is actively involved in the group’s recent strategic investments.
I spoke to him recently about Alibaba’sinternational expansion plans and how it’s adapting its e-commerce platform for the mobile age we now live in.
1. Up until now, most Americans think about Alibaba Group as a Chinese-focused company.  What are your thoughts on international expansion for the group?
We think of international by what we can do in a cross-border context.  It’s one thing to think of exporting from China, which is what we have done a lot to date. But it’s another to situate ourselves in other countries. We’re just starting to do that.
We’ve always had a cross-border B2B business.
We also have AliExpress which is growing and scaling nicely. The concept for AliExpress is to bring Chinese manufacturers online and make a global B2C marketplace. eBay has done a cross-border marketplace well. AliExpress focuses on consumer markets in developing countries.  For example, we are the largest e-commerce site in Russia. We are also looking a lot at South America right now.
The next cross-border opportunity: there are millions of overseas Chinese in North America, Europe and Australia. They all want to buy from Taobao. How do we bring them back?  Every overseas Chinese consumer is like 3-4 native Chinese consumers in terms of purchasing power. There’s no language problem with them coming to our website, but we have to work on payment and logistics.
And on the flipside, we want to bring hundreds of millions Chinese to shop in the United States. This is something which American merchants get excited about.  With AliPay, we can enable Chinese consumers sitting in their home country to shop on, say, Saks Fifth Avenue, pay us in RMB, and we make sure merchants get the currency of their choice and handle logistics.
For us, international means starting with the cross-border opportunity. By analogy, if you look at how Facebook has grown in different countries, they started with cross-border as well. Facebook early adopters in foreign countries were all friends with people in the US. That’s how they built a critical mass of Brazilian early adopters who had friends in the US.  Later on, those early adopters pulled in other Brazilians to the platform and Facebook suddenly hit critical mass around the world.
2. Recently, Alibaba made key investments in Sina Weibo, AutoNavi, and ShopRunner in the US.  Tencent is rumored to be making an investment in Snapchat and has been seeing great success with WeChat.  Baidu has bought 91 Wireless.  The online video space is extremely hot right now in China.  How does Alibaba think about taking your core e-commerce services to mobile and dealing with such threats as the proliferation of Android and messaging platforms?
E-commerce is one segment that’s perhaps the most complex when it comes to mobile. You not only have to deal with browsing and selection but logistics and payment, which implies issues of reliability and security. Mobile adoption in e-commerce is a lot slower than in other consumer Internet verticals.  For example 50% of GMV on Amazon and eBay is not from mobile.  It’s more like 15%-20% – even though in the social networking context, like facebook, more than 50% of the users access the service from  mobile devices. Today, we are seeing high teens mobile penetration from mobile GMV in China.
We could sit here and be complacent about the rise of mobile because Taobao and Tmall have very good positions having captured large shares in mobile commerce, but we’re feeling the opposite. We’re seeing the future and we feel a strong sense of urgency when it comes to mobile.
Mobile commerce could really disrupt the traditional marketplaces in the PC environment. In mobile, there’s not a lot of screen room. E-commerce marketplaces are conducive to larger screens. People want to save time on a mobile small screen. Therefore, the whole model could be disruptive.
So, with mobile, we are shifting from a model of pulling users to pushing messages out to users.  Ebay’s web site is a destination. That’s pull.  In contract, mobile enables every merchant to push whatever message to a huge audience.
Alibaba Bet On Wireless Business With ALL IN Strategy, Aiming At 30% Market Share For Laiwang [TechNode, Oct 21, 2013]
Alibaba takes Laiwang, an IM tool released 4.0 version this September, as a breakthrough point for wireless business. The market share of Laiwang is expected to reach 30% in a bid to guarantee better user experience and to facilitate the expansion of other services.
Different to similar IM tools of WeChat and EasyChat, Laiwang targeted at pure friend interaction platform by introducing new features such as, burn after reading, an automatic message eliminating service, and the right to establish groups with up to 500 members. The company has launched large-scale promotion activities for Laiwang both internally and externally.
To complete the product lineup, the company will also zero in on Mobile Taobao, Ali OS as well as an imminent O2O [Online to Offline] service. The newly added users of Mobile Taobao exceeded 100 million in the first half of this year, while number of active users tripled that of the same period of last year. Sina Weibo account of Mobile Taobao-like Weitao recorded more than 50 million visitors.
Because of the disruptive elements of mobile, we’re not standing still. We have to move out of our comfort zone of e-commerce. We have to be more eclectic. While the Taobao app is already one of the most popular apps in China with hundreds of millions mobile users, you will see us doing our own messaging platform. We have something competitive to WeChat.  It has a lot to do with e-commerce, if you make it large enough.  Within the Taobao app we also have a “mini-app” that enable merchants to stay connected to their customers who subscribe to get feeds.  This is a very good tool for merchants to retain their existing customers, which lowers their cost of churn and ultimately lowers their cost of having to acquire new customers to replace the churn.
YunOS 2.3 云OS (Aliyun OS 2.3) 
[Multicorechina.com YouTube channel, Dec 16, 2013]
Introducing the YunOS 2.3
Alibaba merges two cloud subsidiaries [WantChinaTimes.com, Jan 8, 2013]
and net.cn [http://www.net.cn (万网 – WAN network or universal net) which is known as HiChina (en.hichina.com) in English], two cloud computing internet service companies under China’s largest internet company Alibaba Group, will be merged as a new company retaining the Aliyun name. … Net.cn’s services will remain unchanged, offering its users cloud computing and cloud emails with the continually upgrading system. The website is the largest domain name system provider and virtual server industry leader in China. …
Telecom licenses granted by MIIT [Global Times, Dec 26, 2013]
China’s top telecommunications watchdog issued licenses to the first batch of domestic mobile virtual network operators on Thursday, an attempt to further reshape the country’s telecom industry.
This move enables a total of 11 private firms – including e-commerce platform jd.com, cloud computing service provider net.cn, and Beijing-based communication service company DiXin Tong – to purchase mobile telecom services from the three State-owned telecom carriers and resell the services to consumers under their own brands, according to a statement released Thursday by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
As the parent company of net.cn, e-commerce giant Alibaba said in an e-mail sent to the Global Times Thursday that the license will help the company to offer customized telecom services to online shoppers and retailers, allowing it to further extend its e-commerce ecosystem.
We’re also doing an operating system for smartphones. The core strategy is to give users an experience that connects their hardware device to content and services in the cloud.  It’s an alternative to Android where an Android device is isolated from cloud-based services.
In mobile, the boundaries between e-commerce, communications, social networking, etc., become blurred.
Sina Weibo, often known as the Twitter of China, is a way for merchants who have Taobao store-fronts to stay in touch with their customers and for consumers to share what they like on Taobao, and that’s in part what drove our strategic investment in Weibo.  AutoNavi is not just a provider of navigation and map services.  They have one of the most popular “local services” apps in China that enable users to find restaurants and entertainment based on their locations.  Local services will play a big role in e-commerce in the future.
We will continue to find all kinds of new ways to reach our users in ways that best suit this new mobile environment we operate in.

6. Also Alibaba spinoff moves further into the cloud [People’s Daily, Dec 25, 2013]

A division of the e-commerce giant readies to take on US competition

E-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will extend its cloud-computing services to overseas markets in March, as it attempts to grab a share of the public cloud arena from archrivals such as Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp.

imageAliyun, Alibaba’s spinoff cloud-computing division, is scheduled to set up data centers outside China to provide cloud-computing services to local enterprises and Chinese companies’ overseas operations, the company announced on Tuesday.

By building platforms for companies to manage and store data in the cloud, Aliyun will become the first Chinese company to reach out to the foreign public cloud segment, days after its US counterpart Amazon announced the launch of a similar services in China.

“After five years of development and three years of commercialization, Aliyun is able toprovide sustainable services to customers, backed by its resourceful parent, Alibaba,” said Aliyun director Zhang Jing.

The service recently gained the world’s first gold certification for cloud security from the British Standards Institute, a business standards company, which further guarantees its reliability, Zhang noted.

Zhang declined to disclose the first destination for Aliyun’s global outreach. But he implied two options: the United States (Amazon’s birthplace) or Southeast Asia, thanks to its proximity to domestic businesses.

As the country’s largest cloud-computing platform, Aliyun provides cloud computing services for hundreds of thousands of Chinese websites and e-commerce vendors, banks, game developers and others.

Three-fourths of the 188 million orders generated from the Nov 11 online sales day were processed by the Alibaba cloud-computing system.

Alibaba has made a consistent push into domestic cloud- computing enterprises. InSeptember, Alibaba acquired personal cloud storage service Kanbox.

In August, ChinaSoft International Ltd announced a strategic agreement with Aliyun and the Lishui municipal government for a State-funded cloud project in Zhejiang province.

Aliyun may team up with local telecom carriers to avoid local regulatory restrictions, Zhang noted.

7. Finally, as the result of extreme lucrativeness of organic growth in 2014 Alibaba to extend $8 billion loan to end 2014, buying more time for IPO: sources [Reuters, Dec 11, 2013]

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said on Wednesday it is seeking to extend the draw-down period of an $8 billion loan from January next year, a move people familiar with the e-commerce company’s plans said would buy it more time to launch an IPO.
The original expiry date of the draw-down period on the loan was January 30 of next year, according to the deal terms. Alibaba wants to extend that to December 31, 2014, sources familiar with the discussions said.
We have plenty of cash on the balance sheet and there is no need to draw down at this time, so we are extending the availability of funds to maintain flexibility,” the company said, without specifying a new date.
Alibaba said the funds will be used for corporate purposes. It has already used $5 billion from the loan facility to refinance its debt.
The $8 billion loan is a key part of Alibaba’s IPO plan, and the extension to the end of next year signals that the public float is remains a long way off.
China’s biggest e-commerce firm has struggled to reach an agreement with Hong Kong regulators over a partnership structure it hopes to use as part of an initial public offering (IPO), a deal that expected to be worth around $15 billion and which may take place next year.
Public comments by its founder Jack Ma and a statement from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in recent months, however, have raised the possibility of a Hong Kong listing.
The company has yet to outline a date or venue for the IPO. Under an agreement with its second biggest shareholder Yahoo Inc., Alibaba has incentives to complete an IPO before December 2015. [Note that Yahoo! Inc. is required to sell its 208mn shares of Alibaba concurrent with the IPO.]
All 22 lenders involved with the loan must agree to the extension.
The banks have until December 20 to respond to the extension request, and those responding in favor before Friday will get an “early bird” fee of $50,000 from the company if the move succeeds.


Note that there is no information yet on whether the banks extended their loans to Alibaba. The delay of the IPO is, however, so lucrative to the company that I would be rather surprised if it won’t be done. According to a latest analysis What’s the Best Way to Play 2014’s Hottest IPO? [The Motley Fool, Jan 6, 2014] “it’s not unrealistic to foresee a $200 billion valuation” even as Alibaba stands today. With all those extraordinary opportunities in Chinese finances, telecom etc. (described above) that valuation could increase significantly during the year. This means that the Alibaba Group will have much more new capital coming under Jack Ma’s control. And that is even more threat to Jef Bezos (Amazon) et al.

It is also important that Alipay is not part of that Alibaba Group IPO, so getting the strategic investors’ money (60%) will also significantly increase the additional capital that will come under Jack Ma’s control.

Details about Jack Ma and his strategic moves for the U.S. market in 2013

You can best understand the personality of the chairman of the Alibaba Group from Jack Ma Commencement Address at HKUST [Jim Erickson YouTube, Nov 8, 2013]

Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma gives the commencement address to the 2013 graduating class at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on Nov. 8, 2013.

So his devotion to the problems of the society is a quite inherent thing which was driving his life and still will continue to do so, as evidenced by this part of Jack Ma’s Last Speech as Alibaba CEO [Tech in Asia, May 13, 2013]:

Moving forward, I will be doing things that I’m interested in, such as working on education and the environment. Besides work, let’s work hard together to improve China. Let the water be clear, the sky be blue, and the food be safe. Everyone, please! (Jack Ma kneels down to the audience).

According to the Financial Times Person of the year: Jack Ma [Dec 12, 2013]:

But there is another reason for choosing Mr Ma this year: his decision in May to step down as Alibaba’s chief executive at the age of 48 to devote himself to tackling some of China’s biggest problems – in particular its looming environmental disaster.

The Resignation Speech of Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba Group [TofuSquare YouTube channel, May 15, 2013]

Yu Ma (Jack Ma), the CEO of Alibaba Group resigned from his CEO position on May 10th. The Alibaba Group is one of the most influential companies in China, and Yu Ma is one of the iconic figure for Chinese internet, e-commerce and high-tech industry . TheAli Group owns one of the largest online shopping platforms in China, Taobao. The Ali Group held a 40,000 people party in Hangzhou, China to celebrate Taobao’s 10th anniversary. Accompanying with the melody “Ali, Alibaba, Alibaba is a happy young man…” The CEO of Alibaba “Yun Ma” stepped down from his CEO position. Tofusquare have translated his speech for those of you who are interested.

According to Jack Ma TNC Board in China [The Nature Conservancy’s China Program, June 3, 2013]

Amid much fanfare, on May 10 Jack Ma stepped down as CEO from Alibaba, the business he built from scratch in his hometown of Hangzhou that is now one of the biggest companies in the world. On the very next day, May 11, he assumed the role of his latest endeavor: to help restore China’s environment by becoming the Chairman of the Board for The Nature Conservancy’s China Program.

Meanwhile with Jack Ma concentrating on a big strategic role as chairman of the Alibaba Group one must consider Alibaba’s Future IPO Plans [BizAsiaAmerica YouTube channel, July 14, 2013]

Phillip Yin interviews Ronald Wan of the Hong Kong Securities Institute on the future plans of Chinese E-commerce giant Alibaba to go public

The preparation for the IPO certainly includes international expansion plans as well. U.S. is already the place where one can see that:

Alibaba Group unveils U.S.-based investment organization [press release, Oct 22, 2013]

Strategy to back entrepreneurs with a focus on Internet commerce and emerging technologies

SAN FRANCISCO – Oct. 22, 2013 – Alibaba Group announced that it has established a U.S.-based investment organization that will look to back entrepreneurial teams working on innovative platforms, products and ideas with a focus on Internet commerce and emerging technologies.
Michael Zeisser, who joined Alibaba after leading Liberty Media Corp.’s strategies in digital media and Internet commerce for nearly a decade, heads the team. Zeisser created and oversaw Liberty Media’s eCommerce Group, a roll-up of specialty online retail companies where he worked closely with entrepreneurs and senior executives in growing the group’s annual revenues to $1.5 billion. Prior to Liberty Media, Zeisser was a partner in the Media and Private Equity practices of McKinsey & Co. Zeisser will assume the role of Chairman of US Investments for Alibaba Group.
“Alibaba is run by entrepreneurs, and we believe in supporting entrepreneurs with great vision and a strong sense of mission for their companies,” said Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba and head of Alibaba’s strategic investments. “We are extremely excited to have someone of Michael’s caliber and experience to lead our investment efforts in the U.S. The team has been active over the past several months and we have already completed a few investments in the U.S. by partnering with terrific entrepreneurial teams.”

Three U.S. companies have recently announced that they received growth capital funding from Alibaba. They are Fanatics, the leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise; ShopRunner, a platform for top retailers providing free 2-day shipping to online shoppers; and Quixey, a leading developer of search technology that enables users to search for content within mobile apps.

Other members of Alibaba’s U.S. investment team include Peter Stern, a senior banker from the technology, media and telecoms M&A team at Credit Suisse in New York who advised Alibaba on the landmark $7.6 billion stock repurchase from Yahoo in 2012; and Danielle Wong, a Stanford undergraduate who recently received her MBA from the Yale School of Management. The team will be based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
About Alibaba Group:
Alibaba Group’s mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. Since it was founded in 1999, the China-based Alibaba Group has developed leading businesses in consumer e-commerce, online payment, business-to-business marketplaces and cloud computing. Alibaba Group operates Taobao Marketplace (www.taobao.com), China’s most popular online shopping destination; Tmall.com (www.tmall.com), China’s leading online platform for merchants offering quality, brand-name goods to consumers; Juhuasuan (www.juhuasuan.com), a group shopping platform; eTao (www.etao.com), a comprehensive shopping search engine; Alibaba.com (www.alibaba.com) and 1688.com (www.1688.com), leading business-to-business marketplaces for small businesses engaged in international trade and domestic China trade, respectively; and Alibaba Cloud Computing (www.aliyun.com), a developer of platforms for cloud computing and data management. Alipay (www.alipay.com), the most widely-used online payment service by consumers and merchants in China, is an affiliate of Alibaba Group.

imageRegarding Fanatics and ShopRunner here is: Self-Made Billionaire Michael Rubin: E-Commerce Is Rapidly Changing [Entrepreneur YouTube channel, Nov 27, 2013]

The owner of Rue La La, Fanatics and ShopRunner was bankrupt in his teens. But today, at 41, he is worth almost $3 billion. Find out more at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/230138 Related: Why This Company Wants You to Change Your Underwear http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/229810 Why Bitcoin’s Future Is Bright http://www.entrepreneur.com/video/228099

Score! Web Sports Retailer Fanatics Inc.Tops $3 Billion Valuation [The Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2013]

One online retailer has quietly grown into one of America’s largest Web merchants by carving out a lucrative niche: sports apparel.
The company, Fanatics Inc., this week raised $170 million in a new funding round. That more than doubles the retailer’s valuation to $3.1 billion from just a year ago, according to a person familiar with the deal’s terms.
In an interview, Michael Rubin, chief executive of Fanatics’ parent company Kynetic LLC, said the retailer expects to pull in $1 billion in revenue this year, up from $800 million last year, through a focus on sales—primarily online—of officially licensed jerseys, mugs, jackets and other such merchandise. He said the company is profitable, without providing specifics, and he has no plans to take it public.

The new funding comes from Singapore state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd., and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., said Mr. Rubin. Temasek gains a seat on the Jacksonville, Fla., company’s board, he said.
A spokesman for Temasek confirmed the investment, but declined to discuss specifics. An Alibaba representative declined comment.
Mr. Rubin said the money would, among other things, help Fanatics increase its $500 million inventory, fund an overseas expansion and bolster its distribution, including a planned new warehouse in the Western U.S. “We think there’s huge potential in sports apparel and for Fanatics to grow,” said Mr. Rubin. “We’ll be looking at Western Europe and Asia as places to move into.”

Fanatics adds 800 seasonal jobs for upcoming holiday season [USA01 YouTube channel, Oct 21, 2013]

Fanatics is the world’s largest online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise and they’re adding 800 seasonal jobs.

Sports E-Commerce Leader Fanatics Launches Mobile App for iPhone and Android [press release, Nov 13, 2013]

November 13, 2013 – JACKSONVILLE, FL – Fanatics, Inc. announces the launch of its first-ever mobile app for iPhone and Android devices. The leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise is continuing to ensure sports fans receive the best possible shopping experience, including easier access to the largest assortment of team gear on smartphones.
The new Fanatics app provides sports fans worldwide with mobile access to more than 250,000 products from over 700 teams. Users have the ability to browse through merchandise, save their favorite teams and find the best quality gear from all major leagues, including the NFL, NCAA, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA and UFC. App users also have access to the free Fanatics REWARDS program, which offers free 3-day shipping on everything plus 5% Fan Cash™ on orders over $50 and 10% Fan Cash™ on orders over $100.
“Launching the Fanatics mobile app is an exciting time for our company as we continue to expand our reach to sports fans,” said David Katz, SVP and GM of Mobile for Fanatics. “With Fanatics growing so quickly and sports over-indexing on mobile, it was crucial that we get a great, user-friendly commerce app for fan gear out to our users. And this is just the start since location information and real-time data will allow us to build on this start and create even better experiences for passionate fans.”
About Fanatics
Fanatics is a leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise and provides the ultimate shopping experience to sports fans. As a Top 50 Internet Retailer Company, Fanatics comprises the broadest online assortment offering hundreds of thousands of officially licensed items via its Fanatics (www.fanatics.com) and FansEdge (www.fansedge.com) brands. In addition, the company powers the e-commerce sites of all major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA), major media brands (NBC Sports, CBS Sports, FOX Sports) and e-stores for over 200 collegiate and professional team properties.

imageShopRunner Helping Retailers Boost Sales, CEO Says [ShopRunner YouTube channel, May 14, 2012]

June 20, 2012 (Bloomberg) — Michael Golden, president and chief executive officer of ShopRunner, talks about the company’s business strategy and services for retailers. He speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg) Learn more about ShopRunner athttp://www.shoprunner.com

Alibaba Leads $206 Million Investment in ShopRunner [The Wall Street Journal, Oct 10, 2013]

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has led a $206 million investment in a rival to Amazon.com Inc., AMZN +1.38% one of its biggest U.S. moves as the Chinese e-commerce giant considers an initial public offering here.
Alibaba invested in ShopRunner Inc., which offers unlimited two-day shipping from retailers including Toys “R” Us Inc. and RadioShack Corp. RSH -2.62% for a $79 annual fee. American Express Co. AXP +1.27% has also taken a small stake in ShopRunner.
The deal values ShopRunner at about $600 million, said a person familiar with the matter, and completes a funding round in which Alibaba previously chipped in about $70 million. It isn’t clear exactly how much Alibaba invested, but it did put in most of the funding, this person said. As part of the deal, eBay Inc. EBAY +1.58% sold its prior 30% holding in ShopRunner for a profit, the person said.

Alibaba has had designs on the U.S. for years. It operates two U.S.-facing websites, traditional online marketplace Aliexpress.com and Alibaba.com, a business-to-business sales site. In 2010, it struck a deal to sell goods through eBay’s marketplace. In June, Alibaba took a minority stake in Fanatics Inc., also controlled by ShopRunner-parent Kynetic LLC, as part of $170 million funding round.

“The U.S. market in the long run is very interesting to us,” said Joe Tsai, Alibaba’s executive vice chairman and co-founder in an interview. “Coming into this market is about learning about American consumers and how the market operates.” Mr. Tsai said he expects ShopRunner to be competitive with Amazon over time. One analyst says that won’t be easy.

ShopRunner is headed by Scott Thompson, the former PayPal president who resigned as Yahoo’s chief executive last year after a flap over a flawed biography in a company regulatory filing.
Mr. Thompson, who joined ShopRunner in July, said the cash injection will help the company grow more quickly, including adding new retailers. “We’re staking out a place in mobile, hiring more engineers that will allow us to evolve our business,” Mr. Thompson said. He said the company is also hiring additional salespeople.
Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus Group Ltd. plans to join as soon as this month, said John Koryl, a division president. “Our customer wants to know she’ll get her item in two days,” he said. “This is a good experiment to see how it goes.”
The ShopRunner funding round marks another milestone for Kynetic CEO Michael Rubin, who sold e-commerce consultancy GSI Commerce to eBay in March 2011 for $2.4 billion; the unit is now called eBay Enterprise. The June round in which Alibaba participated valued Kynetic at $3 billion.
ShopRunner takes a 2% to 5% cut of goods purchased from merchants’ websites by members of the loyalty program, Mr. Thompson said. And it is one of few alternatives for merchants hoping to branch out into e-commerce while not relying too heavily on Amazon. The company doesn’t disclose revenue or profitability.
Earlier this year, the company announced a partnership with American Express giving many U.S. cardholders free memberships, a potential pool of tens of millions.

Scott Thompson, Ousted Yahoo CEO, Named New CEO of ShopRunner [FinancialNewsOnline, July 23, 2012]

From Fnno.com, this is the Financial News Network. While a lot of attention has been paid to Marissa Mayer being named the new CEO of Yahoo, it seems her predecessor has a new job as well. Scott Thompson, the previous CEO of Yahoo has been named the new CEO of ShopRunner.
ShopRunner is a subscription service that partners with over 60 online retailers. Customers pay a monthly fee, and are then able to reap the benefits of exclusive deals with certain retailers, and receive free shipping. Thompson was previously a board member for the company, as early as when he was the president of PayPal.
Thompson’s previous position at Yahoo lasted only four months after which he was forced to depart amid allegations he lied about his qualifications. ShopRunner’s current CEO, Mike Golden, will remain with the company as president. For more coverage and analysis of the business world follow us on Twitter @FNNOnline or check out our website at fnno.com

imageQuixey – Introducing the New Android App [quixey YouTube channel, Oct 22, 2013]

Quixey is the best place to find and discover apps on Android. Download it for free on Google Play here: http://bit.ly/1cVpC74 Learn more about the product at http://www.quixey.com/androidapp

Announcing Quixey on Android, a Better Way to Find Apps! [Quixey News, Oct 23, 2013]

Today we’re super excited to announce the launch of our first direct to consumer product, now available for free on Android — download it from Google Play right here and read about it on the product page!
Until now, most app search has been based on titles and keywords, which requires users to know the name of an app before they can search for it. With Quixey, all you have to do is describe what you want to do in natural language. For example, “tune my guitar” or “identify wines.”
Beyond that, we’ve included a bunch of fun and engaging new features. Whether you know what kind of app you want, or just have a minute to find something new, there’s something for everyone. Here’s what Quixey on Android offers:
  • Search – App search that works. You don’t need to know an app’s name to get great results. Search for apps by describing what you want to do and we’ll find apps to help.
  • Trending – Check out the latest and greatest apps. No matter who you are – parent, student, teacher, traveler, athlete, gamer, musician – we have the top trending apps picked for you.
  • Browse – Browse through categories and subcategories. Take our browse wheel for a spin to find the perfect app for you (not available on Gingerbread OS).
  • Sample – Curious what types of apps are out there? Check out our sample queries to see what other people are searching for.
Quixey is in beta and we’re committed to building an amazing product that you love. Submit your feedback from within the app (in the information section) or send an email to androidapp@quixey.com. Thanks and have fun finding great new apps!

[Tech Talk Video] The Functional Web: The Future of Apps and the Web [quixey YouTube channel, March 4, 2013]

CTO Liron Shapira gives a talk about the future of apps and the Functional Web at Box HQ in Los Altos on Feb 27, 2013.

The Functional Web is also explained by him in this Quixey blog post of March 7, 2013.

Quixey Secures $50M in Series C Funding Led by Alibaba Group [Quixey News, Oct 3, 2013]

Today we’re thrilled to announce we’ve officially closed our latest round of funding! Series C is led by Alibaba Group, with new investor GGV Capital, and participation from existing investors Atlantic Bridge, Innovation Endeavors, Translink Capital, US Venture Partners, and WI Harper.
“Next year, 95% of the world’s population will have mobile access, and by 2016 people will use 1.5 billion smart mobile devices. Quixey is at the epicenter of this brave new world, and this investment will ensure that we continue to expand globally,” said Tomer Kagan, Quixey CEO and Co-Founder. “Apps have moved from novelty to a major factor in purchasing decisions for consumers and we’ve only just started to scratch the surface of what they can do.”
We’re very excited to be working with a company on the level of Alibaba, whose mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere. Since its inception, it has developed leading businesses in consumer e-commerce, online payment, business-to-business marketplaces and cloud computing, reaching Internet users in more than 240 countries and regions.

Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman at Alibaba, is equally as excited to be working with us. As he says, “Innovation is at the heart of Alibaba’s culture, so backing entrepreneurs who are developing forward-thinking technology is what we love to do. Quixey has a great vision for the future and a fantastic team to see it through.”

The additional $50 million, which brings our funding total to $74.2 million, will be used to further develop our market leading Functional Search™ technology, which currently allows users to find apps by describing what they want to do. With the flexibility to bolster our already strong roster of talented employees, we’ll now be able to focus on going deeper and deeper into apps, bringing users the information and functionality they want quicker than ever before.
“Building user-centric products is what Quixey is about. We should be the starting point for every mobile device,” said Guru Gowrappan, EVP, Product and Marketing at Quixey. “We give users a more natural way to search for the things that makes their lives easier. That’s the core of our Functional Search™ technology and the core of the company.”
Ever since launching in 2011, we’ve been working hard to bring the build the best possible product for our users. This is a huge benchmark for us as it allows us to make our vision for the future of apps and the web a reality much faster than originally possible. If you have any questions about the funding round, please send us a note at press@quixey.com. Look out for more big announcements in the coming months!

imageAlipay service gains rising popularity [CCTVcomInternational, July 17, 2013]

Alipay’s Yu E Bao, an online payment platform in China, is rapidly gaining popularity amongst online retailers and shoppers.

China’s answer to PayPal expands into the U.S. [Internet Retailer, Sept 27, 2013]

Three hundred million Chinese consumers shop online, and most of them have accounts with Alipay, the PayPal-like online payment service owned by Alibaba Group Ltd., operator of China’s top online marketplaces. In a move that could make it easier for Chinese shoppers to buy on U.S. e-commerce sites, Alipay is now promoting itself as a payment option for U.S. e-retailers.
imageAmong the U.S. online retailers that’s begun accepting Alipay this year is iHerb Inc., No. 204 in the Internet Retailer. In the first six months of accepting the Chinese payment method, iHerb’s sales on the cn.iHerb.com subdomain of its web site aimed at Chinese consumers increased 244.52% compared with the prior six-month period and 684.15% compared with the same period a year earlier, says John McCarthy, director of marketing at iHerb.
Leading Alipay’s international expansion is Jingming Li, whose title is chief architect and acting president of the newly formed Alibaba International Financial Service Unit. Based at Alibaba’s U.S. headquarters in Santa Clara, CA, Li sees a big opportunity in enabling Chinese shoppers to pay with a method that they use widely in China, not only to shop online but also to pay utility and other bills offline in China.
Li notes that China’s increasingly affluent middle- and upper-class consumers made 83 million trips abroad last year [in 2012] and spent $100 billion while traveling. In addition, he says, they spent 20 billion yuan ($3.3 billion) buying directly from e-commerce sites outside of China. They’re especially interested in buying baby products, apparel and luxury goods.
They would buy more, Alibaba reasons, if they could pay with the Alipay accounts they use in China. “That’s where our international focus will be, helping our members continue to use their Alipay accounts outside of China,” he says.
imageWithout disclosing the total number of U.S. sites accepting Alipay, Li says there are about 10 web sites in the U.S. that already are generating more than 100 Alipay transactions per day. They include the e-commerce sites of retailers Gap Inc. Direct, No. 19 in the 2013 Top 500, and Forever 21, No. 353; travel site Travelzoo; web domain registrar GoDaddy and peerTransfer, which handles tuition payments for international students.
International web sites can boost sales by accepting Alipay because many Chinese consumers don’t have credit cards from Western brands like Visa and MasterCard, Li says. Plus, he says, “They are in the habit of using Alipay. If a merchant is willing to use Alipay as a form of payment it gives a lot more trust and confidence to the consumer who may be purchasing an airline ticket from a foreign carrier for the first time.”
Li would not disclose Alipay’s fees, but says they are lower than the fees charged by major credit card brands like MasterCard and Visa. Chinese consumers typically fund their Alipay accounts from their bank accounts, which eliminates much of the risk that credit card issuers take on when they extend credit to cardholders. McCarthy of iHerb says the fees he pays are comparable to what he pays for other payment methods, and that he views the fees as “attractive.”

Chinese consumers & global travel [BizAsiaAmerica YouTube channel, Nov 20, 2013]

Li Jingming, Vice President of Alipay International appears on CCTV to discuss Alipay’s potential global expansion.

Alibaba restructures Alipay’s parent, Jack Ma’s share reduced [Reuters, Nov 1, 2013]

The online payment affiliate of China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Ltd will be restructured to attract new strategic investors, in a move that will reduce the shareholding of Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma in the affiliate.
Zhejiang Alibaba E-Commerce Co Ltd will be restructured as a new company in which 60 percent of its shares will be offered to new strategic investors, Lucy Peng, head of the restructured entity, said in a letter published on its official Weibo microblog account on Friday.
Ma will see his shareholding reduced from 80 percent to about 7 percent in the new company, or no greater than his shareholding in Alibaba Group, according to the letter.
The restructured company, to be known as Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services Group, will hold Zhejiang Alibaba’s 100 percent stake in unit Alipay, as well as its shareholding in Alibaba’s micro-finance unit, Zhongan Insurance, and Tianhong Asset Management Co.
Alipay is China’s biggest third-party payment platform, providing payment solutions to 460,000 merchants, and with 800 million registered accounts.
The remaining 40 percent in the new company will be offered to nearly 24,000 employees at Alibaba Group and Zhejiang Alibaba, said Peng, former chief executive of Alipay. That includes the share held by Ma.
The announcement on Friday will have no impact on existing agreements with Alibaba and the group’s shareholders SoftBank Corp and Yahoo! Inc, Alibaba spokesman John Spelich said.
In 2011, Ma sparked a public dispute with Alibaba Group’s biggest outside investors when he separated Alipay from Alibaba. Ma said at the time that new Chinese government regulations on third-party payment services required the changes.
The companies later settled, in a deal that guaranteed Alibaba 49.9 percent of Alipay’s earnings prior to an initial public offering, and as much as $6 billion if Alipay sells shares to the public.
“Today’s announcement underscores that employees of both Alibaba Group Holdings and Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services Group are being incentivized to work hard to achieve success for the company,” Spelich said.
Alibaba Group, through Alipay, is introducing a variety of financial services to complement its e-commerce businesses. Besides Alipay, which provides users with an online payment system, the Hangzhou-based company has also started fund and insurance sales, as well as small loan finance.
In June, Alipay launched Yu E Bao, a fund management platform, allowing Alibaba customers to directly invest cash from their Alipay account into a money market fund managed by Tianhong Asset Management Co.
The Zenglibao fund is the most successful fundraising by any mutual fund in China this year, with managed assets reaching 55.7 billion yuan ($9.14 billion) at the end of September.
Alibaba also received approval this week from China’s securities regulators to act as a third party for the online sale of fund products on its Amazon-like Taobao.

China’s Alipay teams with U.S. network [BizAsiaAmerica YouTube channel, Nov 20, 2013]

Mark Niu reports on how Alipay is making it easier for Chinese to book flights and hotels online by partnering with the U.S. company UATP. Subscribe to BizAsiaAmerica: http://goo.gl/FMKaBj Follow CCTV America: Twitter: http://bit.ly/15oqHSy Facebook: http://on.fb.me/172VKne

UATP and Alipay Unite to Help the U.S. Travel Industry Tap into the World’s Top-Spending Travel Market [press release, Nov 5, 2013]

imageAirline and Travel Payment Summit,  Chicago,November 5, 2013  – UATP announced today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with Alipay, China’s leading third-party online payment solution, to enable the U.S. travel industry to offer Chinese consumers a convenient and trusted way to book and pay for overseas travel.
With minimal change to their existing backend systems, airlines, hotels and other travel enterprises can now easily connect to the more than 800 million Chinese account holders on the Alipay platform via the UATP Network. These consumers are extremely comfortable with online purchasing and enthusiastic about high-quality international products and overseas travel.
China’s increasingly affluent middle- and upper-class consumers made 83 million outbound trips in 2012. China has been the world’s fastest-growing tourism source market for the past decade and it is now also the world’s top tourism spender. Chinese travelers spent a record US$102 billion in 2012 to surpass the U.S. and Germany, both with spending close to $84 billion.
“After years as the most widely used online payment platform in China, Alipay is thrilled to join forces with UATP in this milestone collaboration. We are excited to help U.S. businesses satisfy eager Chinese consumers,” said Jingming Li, vice president and chief architect of Alipay International. “Alipay is dedicated to meeting the needs of China’s vast and growing pool of keen overseas travelers by making it easier for them to pay for air tickets, book hotels, rent cars and make other travel-related purchases online from the world’s leading airlines and accredited travel agencies.”
“We look forward to partnering with Alipay and working with them in this mutually beneficial opportunity,” said Ralph Kaiser, president and CEO, UATP. “We see further growth in outbound travel as inevitable for China. Matching the strength of the UATP Network with Alipay’s proven success, we are confident that we can bring the best that both companies have to offer to this booming market.”
Launched in 2004, Alipay is a cross-border payment solution that provides an easy and secure platform to make and receive payment over the Internet. Alipay partners with more than 180 financial institutions and supports transactions in 15 foreign currencies. It had more than 800 million registered accounts as of December 2012.
UATP is a comprehensive payment solution that airlines offer to reduce the high cost of credit card use and provide vital data for accurate travel management. UATP’s corporate program and data tools, DataStream and DataMine, supply Level III Data for all air and rail travel, and folio-level data for hotel stays.
For more information, visit http://uatp.com and http://global.alipay.com

No wonder that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson are now courting Jack Ma as evidenced by the recent Alibaba Gets a British Touch [BizAsiaAmerica YouTube channel, Dec 26, 2013] video report:

Richard Bestic reports from London where UK brands are set to be promoted on China’s T-Mall.

Xamarin: C# developers of native “business” and “mobile workforce” applications now can easily work cross-platform, for Android and iOS clients as well

… while other cross-platform applications, i.e. “applications for consumers only” are prohibited for C# developers by the still high price of Xamarin, which essentially applies to indie and start-up developers only

The mobile application development technology behind this, from the cloud to the clients, was extensively covered in Windows Phone 8: getting much closer to a unified development platform with Windows 8 [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 8, 2012] post of mine (including the cross-platform possibilities with Xamarin already), and then continued in Windows Azure becoming an unbeatable offering on the cloud computing market [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, June 28, 2013] and Microsoft partners empowered with ‘cloud first’, high-value and next-gen experiences for big data, enterprise social, and mobility on wide variety of Windows devices and Windows Server + Windows Azure + Visual Studio as the platform [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, July 10, 2013] posts for the cloud part.

Note: Decide for yourself how that “consumers only applications by indie and start-up developers” type of exclusion will effect the cross platform development needs, after you take a look at the current state of the evolution of smartphone and tablet markets:


Q3’13 smartphone and overall mobile phone markets: Android smartphones surpassed 80% of the market, with Samsung increasing its share to 32.1% against Apple’s 12.1% only; while Nokia achieved a strong niche market position both in “proper” (Lumia) and “de facto” (Asha Touch) smartphones 
[‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 14, 2013]

The tablet market in Q1-Q3’13: It was mainly shaped by white-box vendors while Samsung was quite successfully attacking both Apple and the white-box vendors with triple digit growth both worldwide and in Mainland China 
[‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Nov 14, 2013]


For one of the problems solved now by Microsoft see my Obstacles for .NET on other platforms [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Oct 15, 2013] post.

To understand what is the situation now I will start with:

In: Cross Platform .NET Just A Lot Got Better [Haacked blog, Nov 13, 2013]

Not long ago I wrote a blog post about how platform restrictions harm .NET. This led to a lot of discussion online and on Twitter. At some point David Kean suggested a more productive approach would be to create a UserVoice issue. So I did and it quickly gathered a lot of votes.

Phil Haack – Customer Feedback for Microsoft http://visualstudio.uservoice.com/users/40986152-phil-haack:

Remove the platform restriction on Microsoft NuGet packages 4,929 votes
Phil Haack shared this idea and gave it 3 votes  ·  Sep 26, 2013

COMPLETED  ·  Visual Studio team (Product Team, Microsoft) responded
Thanks a lot for this suggestion and all the votes.
We’re happy to announce that we’ve removed the Windows-only restriction from our license. We’ve applied this new license to most of our packages and will continue to use this license moving forward.
Here is our announcement:
For reference, the license for stable packages can be found here:
Immo Landwerth
Program Manager, .NET Framework Team
Phil Haack commented  ·  Nov 13, 2013
Amazing! Thanks! This is great!


Serious Kudos to the .NET team for this. It looks like most of the interesting PCL packages are now licensed without platform restrictions. As an example of how this small change sends out ripples of goodness, we can now make Octokit.net depend on portable HttpClient and make Octokit.net itself more cross platform and portable without a huge amount of work.

I’m also excited about the partnership between Microsoft and Xamarin this represents. I do believe C# is a great language for cross-platform development and it’s good to see Microsoft jumping back on board with this. This is a marked change from the situation I wrote about in 2012.

  • then will go to S. Somasegar, Corporate Vice President of the Developer Division at Microsoft:

In: Visual Studio 2013 Launch: Announcing Visual Studio Online [Somasegar’s blog, Nov 13, 2013]

… Microsoft and Xamarin are collaborating to help .NET developers broaden the reach of their applications to additional devices, including iOS and Android …

Partner News

With today’s launch of Visual Studio 2013, we have 123 products from 74 partners available already as Visual Studio 2013 extensions.  As part of an ecosystem of developer tools experiences, Visual Studio continues to be a platform for delivering a great breadth of developer experiences.


The devices and services transformation is driving developers to think about how they will build applications that reach the greatest breadth of devices and end-user experiences.  We’ve offered great HTML-based cross platform development experiences in Visual Studio with ASP.NET and JavaScript.  But our .NET developers have also asked us how they can broaden the reach of their applications and skills. 

Today, I am excited to announce a broad collaboration between Microsoft and Xamarin.  Xamarin’s solution enables developers to leverage Visual Studio, Windows Azure and .NET to further extend the reach of their business applications across multiple devices, including iOS and Android.

The collaboration between Xamarin and Microsoft brings several benefits for developers today.  First, as an initial step in a technical partnership, Xamarin’s next release that is being announced today will support Portable Class Libraries, enabling developers to share libraries and components across a breadth of Microsoft and non-Microsoft platformsSecond, Professional, Premium and Ultimate MSDN subscribers will have access to exclusive benefits for getting started with Xamarin, including new training resources, extended evaluation access to Xamarin’s Visual Studio integration and special pricing on Xamarin products.

Xamarin, the company that empowers developers to build fully native apps for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac from a single shared code base, today announced a global collaboration with Microsoft that makes it easy for mobile developers to build native mobile apps for all major platforms in Visual Studio. Xamarin is the only solution that unifies native iOS, Android and Windows app development in Visual Studio—bridging one of the largest developer bases in the world to the most successful mobile device platforms.

A highly competitive app marketplace and the consumerization of IT have put tremendous pressure on developers to deliver high quality mobile user experiences for both consumers and employees. A small bug or crash can lead to permanent app abandonment or poor reviews. Device fragmentation, with hundreds of devices on the market for iOS and Android alone, multiplies testing efforts resulting in a time-consuming and costly development process. This is further complicated by faster release cycles for mobile, necessitating more stringent and efficient regression testing.

The collaboration spans three areas:

  • A technical collaboration to better integrate Xamarin technology with Microsoft developer tools and services.
    Aligned with this goal, Xamarin is a SimShip partner for Visual Studio 2013, releasing same-day support for Microsoft’s latest Visual Studio release that launched today. In addition, Xamarin has released today full integration for Microsoft’s Portable Library projects in iOS and Android apps, making it easier than ever for developers to share code across devices.
  • Xamarin’s recently launched Xamarin University is now free to MSDN subscribers. The training course helps developers become successful with native iOS and Android development over the course of 30 days. Classes for the $1,995 program kick off in January 2014, with a limited number of seats available at no cost for MSDN subscribers.
  • MSDN subscribers have exclusive trial and pricing options to Xamarin subscriptions for individuals and teams.

    Get a 90-day trial to Xamarin, sign up for Xamarin University for free (normally $1,995), and save 30-50% on Xamarin with special MSDN pricing.
    All the productivity you love in Visual Studio and C#,
    on iOS and Android.

The broad collaboration between Microsoft and Xamarin which we announced today is targeted at supporting developers interested in extending their applications across multiple devices, said S. Somasegar, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Corporation. With Xamarin, developers combine all of the productivity benefits of C#, Visual Studio 2013 and Windows Azure with the flexibility to quickly build for multiple device targets.

According to Gartner, by 2016, 70 percent of the mobile workforce will have a smartphone, half of which will be purchased by the employee, and 90 percent of enterprises will have two or more platforms to support. Faced with high expectations for mobile user experiences and the pressures of BYOD, companies and developers alike are looking for scalable ways to migrate business practices and customer interactions to high-performance, native apps on multiple platforms.

To meet this need to support heterogeneous mobile environments, Microsoft and Xamarin are making it easy for developers to mobilize their existing skills and code. By standardizing mobile app development with Xamarin and C#, developers are able to share on average 75 percent of their source code across device platforms, while still delivering fully native apps. Xamarin supports 100 percent of both iOS and Android APIsanything that can be done in Objective-C or Java can be done in C# with Xamarin.

In just two years, Xamarin has amassed a community of over 440,000 developers in 70 countries, more than 20,000 paying accounts and a network of over 120 consulting partners globally.

We live in a multi-platform world, and by embracing Xamarin, Microsoft is enabling its developer community to thrive as mobile developers, said Nat Friedman, CEO and cofounder, Xamarin. Our collaboration with Microsoft will accelerate enterprise mobility for millions of developers.

The groundbreaking partnership was announced as part of the Visual Studio Live 2013 launch event in New York City. In addition, Xamarin and Microsoft have teamed up with the popular podcast, .NET Rocks!, for a 20-city nationwide road show featuring live demos on how to use Visual Studio 2013, Xamarin and Windows Azure to build and scale mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows. For a full list of cities and to sign up for an event, please visit: xamarin.com/modern-apps-roadshow

About Xamarin
Xamarin is the new standard for enterprise mobile development. No other platform enables businesses to reach all major devices—iOS, Android, Mac and Windows—with 100 percent fully native apps from a single code base. With Xamarin, businesses standardize mobile app development in C#, share on average 75 percent source code across platforms, and leverage their existing skills, teams, tools and code to rapidly deliver great apps with broad reach. Xamarin is used by over 430,000 developers from more than 100 Fortune 500 companies and over 20,000 paying customers including Clear Channel, Bosch, McKesson, Halliburton, Cognizant, GitHub, Rdio and WebMD, to accelerate the creation of mission-critical consumer and enterprise apps. For more information, please visit: xamarin.com, read our blog, and follow us on Twitter @xamarinhq.

Earlier today, Soma announced a collaboration between Microsoft and Xamarin. As you probably know, Xamarin’s Visual Studio extension enables developers to use VS and .NET to extend the reach of their apps across multiple devices, including iOS and Android. As part of that collaboration, today, we are announcing two releases around the .NET portable class libraries (PCLs) that support this collaboration:

Microsoft .NET NuGet Libraries Released

Today we released the following portable libraries with our new license, on NuGet.org:

You can now start using these libraries with Xamarin tools, either directly or as the dependencies of portable libraries that you reference.

We also took the opportunity to apply the same license to Microsoft .NET NuGet libraries, which aren’t fully portable today, like Entity Framework and all of the Microsoft AspNet packages. These libraries target the full .NET Framework, so they’re not intended to be used with Xamarin’s iOS and Android tools (just like they don’t target Windows Phone or Windows Store).

These releases will enable significantly more use of these common libraries across Windows and non-Windows platforms, including in open source projects.

Cross-platform app developers can now use PCL

imagePortable class libraries are a great option for app developers building for Microsoft platforms in Visual Studio, to share key business functionality across Microsoft platforms. Many developers use the PCL technology today, for example, to share app logic across Windows Store and Windows Phone. Today’s announcement enables developers using Xamarin’s tools to share these libraries as well.

In Visual Studio, you’ll continue to use Portable Class Library projects but will be able to reference them from within Xamarin’s tools for VS. That means that you can write rich cross-platform libraries and take advantage of them from all of your .NET apps.

The following image demonstrates an example set of .NET NuGet library references that you can use within one of your portable libraries. The .NET NuGet libraries will enable new scenarios and great new libraries built on top of them.

You can build cross-platform libraries with .NET

This announcement also benefits .NET developers writing reusable and open source libraries. You’ve probably used some of these libraries, for example Json.NET. These developers have been very vocal about wanting this change. This announcement greatly benefits those library developers, enabling them to leverage our portable libraries in their libraries.

Getting started with portable libraries and Xamarin

You can start by building portable libraries in Visual Studio, as you can see in the screenshot above. You can take advantage of the portable libraries that we released today. Write code!

You’ll need an updated NuGet client, to take advantage of this new scenario. Make sure that you are using NuGet 2.7.2 or higher, or just download the latest NuGet for your VS version from the Installing NuGet page.

We are working closely with Xamarin to ensure that our NuGet libraries work well with Xamarin tools, as well as PCL generally. Please tell us if you find any issues. We’ll get them resolved and post them to our known issues page.

Thank You

Thank you for the feedback on UserVoice. With today’s announcement, we can mark the request to Remove the platform restriction on Microsoft NuGet packages as complete. Thanks to Phil Haack for filing the issue. Coupled with our collaboration with Xamarin, .NET developers have some compelling tools, especially for targeting mobile devices.

Both Microsoft and Xamarin want to see this scenario succeed. We’d love your feedback. Please tell us how the new features are working for you.

This post was written by Rich Lander, a Program Manager on the .NET Team.

[Some] Comments

Immo Landwerth [MSFT] 13 Nov 2013 1:24 PM

Thanks a lot for the kind words!

@Curt: We absolutely understand that PCL support in Visual Studio express editions is super important to many of our developers. That’s why it’s on our list. However, I can’t promise that we actually end up delivering it in the VS 2013 time frame. As you’ve seen today, there is a lot of great stuff going on and resources are always more scarce than one would hope.

Gz 14 Nov 2013 4:19 AM

Xamarin is great but their pricing is insane! even with the MSDN discount. We’re a tiny start-up development house that has benefited from the MS BizSpark programme and we simply cannot stretch to paying out a thousand bucks per platform, per year, per developer – mobile isn’t even a revenue generator for us – it would merely be extending some functionality from our main apps to mobile and we’d give it to customers for free. I know they have a free & an indie edition blah blah blah but we wanna work in VS. The good news is that Xamarin will soon have a competitor in this space that could potentially blow them out of the water with full VS support and direct access to native APIs on each platform (iOS, Android & Mac) and their pricing will be less than 1/3rd of Xamarin’s. I’ve been sworn to secrecy about it but expect to have a cost-effective Xamarin alternative before the end of the year. (No I don’t work for the company, just got some info about it recently).

Stilgar 14 Nov 2013 8:30 AM

I second the need for PCLs in Express editions. Otherwise your company’s constant claims that the tooling for Windows 8 and Windows Phone development is free is pure hypocrisy.

TL;DR: You can now (legally) use our .NET OData client and ODataLib on Android and iOS.


For a while now we have been working with our legal team to improve the terms you agree to when you use one of our libraries (WCF Data Services, our OData client, or ODataLib). A year and a half ago, we announced that our EULA would include a redistribution clause. With the release of WCF Data Services 5.6.0, we introduced portable libraries for two primary reasons:

    1. Portable libraries reduce the amount of duplicate code and #ifdefs in our code base.

    2. Portable libraries increase our reach through third-party tooling like Xamarin (more on that later).

      It took some work to get there, and we had to make some sacrifices along the way, but we are now focused exclusively on portable libraries for client-side code. Unfortunately, our EULA still contained a clause that prevented the redistributable code from being legally used on a platform other than Windows.

      OData and Xamarin: Extending developer reach to many platforms

      We are really excited about Microsoft’s new collaboration with Xamarin. As Soma says, this collaboration will allow .NET developers to broaden the reach of their applications and skills. This has long been the mantra of ODataa standardized ecosystem of services and consumers that enables consumers on any platform to easily consume services developed on any platform. This collaboration will make it much easier to write a shared code base that allows consumption of OData on Windows, Android or iOS.

      EULA change

      To fully enable this scenario, we needed to update our EULA. We, along with several other teams at Microsoft, are rolling out a new EULA today that has relaxed the distribution requirements. Most importantly, we removed the clause that prevented redistributable code from being used on Android and iOS.

      The new EULA is effective immediately for all of our NuGet packages. This means that (even though we already released 5.6.0) you can create a Xamarin project today, take a new dependency on our OData client, and legally run that application on any platform you wish.


      As always, we really appreciate your feedback. It frequently takes us some time to react, but the credit for this change is due entirely to customer feedback. We hear you. Keep it coming.

      The OData Team

      Alibaba to secure “centuries” of the future of an already “US$150 billion ecosystem of consumers, merchants and business partners” via an internal partnership (rejuvenated each year) of top executive owners (with just 10% of shares) also controlling the board

      With Michael Dell acquiring the rest 84% stake in Dell for $2.15B in cash, before becoming the next IBM, and even getting the cash back after the transaction [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Feb 8, 2013] on Sept 12, 2013 approved by Dell stockholders (for $13.88 per share in cash against the originally proposed $13.65) we had a clear evidence that in these turbulent and extremely fast changing market and business conditions the traditional way of corporate governance is becoming a significant strategic obstacle. Here we have an even more glaring example. Especially because of  The value of Taobao.com and TMall.com in China, as well as outside [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Sept 2, 2013] and the role those key assets of the Alibaba Group are playing for The Upcoming Mobile Internet Superpower [‘Experiencing the Cloud’, Aug 13, 2013].

      Alibaba slams HK exchange after IPO talks fail [South China Morning Post, Sept 30, 2013]

      A senior Alibaba executive sharply criticized the Hong Kong stock exchange for not allowing the Chinese e-commerce giant to go public with its unique management structure, forcing it to shift efforts to the U.S for the potentially mammoth listing.

      The company dropped plans this week to hold an IPO in the southern Chinese financial center because the stock market wasn’t willing to make an exception to its listing rules. Instead, it’s looking to New York for an initial public offering that analysts estimate could value the company at more than $100 billion.

      That would dwarf the tech world’s other hotly anticipated share offering by Twitter, which is estimated to have a market value of $10 billion.
      In a column posted late Thursday on Alibaba’s blog, Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said “Hong Kong must consider what is needed in order to adapt to future trends and changes.”
      Tsai said the company had ended its discussions for a potential listing. It’s the first public acknowledgement that it has dropped its plans for an IPO in Hong Kong, which Tsai said was the company’s “first choice” because most of its business is in China.
      Hangzhou, China-based Alibaba failed to persuade the Hong Kong stock exchange to grant it an exception from listing rules to allow it to maintain a “partnership” structure in which top executives, who own 10 percent of the company, retain control of the board.
      Chairman Jack Ma has described the partnership system, which currently includes 28 people, as essential to preserving the company’s innovative culture.
      Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 as a platform linking Chinese suppliers with retailers abroad. It has expanded in consumer e-commerce with its Taobao and Tmall platforms, which are among the world’s busiest online outlets.
      China has the world’s biggest population of Internet users, and while it trails the U.S. and Japan in total e-commerce spending, the Boston Consulting Group forecasts it will rise to No. 1 by 2015.
      Alibaba’s proposal failed because it was at odds with the Hong Kong exchange’s principle of treating all shareholders equally.
      Tsai challenged the exchange over its rigidity.
      “The question Hong Kong must address is whether it is ready to look forward as the rest of the world passes it by,” he said.
      Alibaba’s two biggest shareholders, Yahoo and Japan’s Softbank, issued statements backing Alibaba.
      “In a fast-moving technology market, it’s critical that a company’s leadership can continue to preserve its culture and set its strategic course for the future,” said Jacqueline Reses, chief development officer at Yahoo, which owns a 23 percent stake. She added that the U.S. Internet company believes Alibaba’s system reflects “the desire to govern the company for long-term success while also balancing the rights of shareholders.”
      Masa Son, founder of Softbank Corp., which owns 35 percent, said he was “supportive” of the company’s structure.
      Alibaba has not yet chosen an exchange or set a timetable for a U.S. listing. But it has hired U.S. law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett to help advise on the IPO and plans to hire underwriters soon, said a source familiar with the matter who was not allowed to speak publicly.
      Goldman Sachs has estimated that a share sale could value Alibaba at as much as $105 billion.
      Alibaba’s profit in the first three months of the year tripled to $669 million on revenue that rose 71 percent to $1.4 billion, according to Yahoo’s latest quarterly earnings.

      Impact of Alibaba s IPO decision [CNN via VBG NewsTV YouTube channel, Oct 2, 2013]

      Alibaba Offers an Alternative View of Good Corporate Governance [Joe Tsai on Alizila blog, Sept 26, 2013]

      Until recently, Alibaba was in dialogue with Hong Kong capital markets regulators on how to translate our guiding philosophy into a form of corporate governance in connection with a potential listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.  As a company with most of our business in China, it was natural for Hong Kong to be our first choice.
      We proposed a governance structure that would enable Alibaba’s partners – key people who manage our businesses – to set the company’s strategic course without being influenced by the fluctuating attitudes of the capital markets so as to protect the long-term interests of our customers, company and all shareholders.
      It has been said that Alibaba threatens the “one-share-one-vote” principle. Nothing is further from the truth.  We never made any proposal that involved a dual-class shareholding structure. A typical dual-class structure allows those who hold high-vote shares to out-vote the rest of shareholders on all corporate matters.  Our governance structure preserves significant rights of shareholders, including the unfettered rights to elect independent directors as well as rights to vote on substantial transactions and related party transactions.
      Why do we insist on our governance structure?  Our overarching objective is to maintain the Alibaba culture. For the past 14 years, Alibaba operated with the ethos of helping the “small guy” to succeed, as embodied in our mission: “to make it easy to do business anywhere”.  This clear sense of mission, long-term focus and commitment to values defines the “Alibaba culture” and it is what makes us successful.
      At the same time, we have also noticed that many great companies quickly deteriorate after their founders leave; in the same vein, a number of successful founders have also made fatal mistakes. The final governance structure we have selected is to replace founders with partners. The reason is simple – a group of partners who cherish the same culture and ideals is more likely to carry forward our principles and make good decisions for all stakeholders with a long-term view.  And in the decade to come, those partners will be guided by these principles when grappling with inevitable disruption and competition.
      We believe this partnership system is the right way to build a sustainable business: partners are peers and, without bureaucracy or rigid hierarchy, they solve problems through collaboration.  Partners are not just managers but they are owners of the business with a keen sense of responsibility.  The partnership is rejuvenated each year through admission of new partners and, as such, it provides both continuity and longevity because it is a living body. With this system, we believe we can sustain the flame of innovation and constantly improve the talent pool of people who run the Alibaba business.
      Those who lack appreciation of our partnership philosophy may view our proposal merely as a founder wanting to preserve control. We could not have a more different objective. Over the past 14 years, we have never sought to control this company through the shareholding structure and we will not begin to do so now. What we want to establish is a mechanism to safeguard the Alibaba culture and we hope that the company’s future is sustainable beyond the life of any one founder. (In fact, Alibaba did not have one or two founders, but 18 founders.  In a sense, we have operated as a partnership from Day One.)  Our hope is to achieve a mechanism for safeguarding the development of the company “to last 102 years,” i.e. spanning at least three centuries starting from 1999, the year we were founded.
      imageAs the largest e-commerce marketplace operator in the world and a custodian of a US$150 billion ecosystem of consumers, merchants and business partners, our commitment to openness, transparency, sharing and responsibility is at the core of our value system.
      We fervently believe maintaining an innovative culture and company mission are the essence of success in this disruptive world we operate in.  Our governance structure is a creative way to address the core issues that matter to shareholders while staying true to who we are – which we cannot, and will not, change.
      As an e-commerce company, we are deeply aware of the disruption that is brought about by the Internet across all industries, and the capital markets are not exempt from this disruption. As a social enterprise, we will strive to drive and promote this type of innovation. We welcome a debate about models of good governance for a business like ours in the 21st century.
      We understand Hong Kong may not want to change its tradition for one company, but we firmly believe that Hong Kong must consider what is needed in order to adapt to future trends and changes. The question Hong Kong must address is whether it is ready to look forward as the rest of the world passes it by.
      Joe Tsai is a co-founder and Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group

      Background from the point of view of philosophies behind stock exchange regulations:
      Breakingviews: Hong Kong’s Alibaba loss is New York’s gain? [Reuters TV YouTube channel, Sept 26, 2013]

      Chinese Internet giant Alibaba has chosen New York over Hong Kong for its $15 billion IPO. Breakingviews’ Peter Thal Larsen and Rob Cox debate the pros and cons for the company and the exchanges.

      Background on the stakes in question:
      How e-commerce is changing China [CNN via TheBreakingNewss YouTube channel, Sept 30, 2013]

      The gentleman on the left is David Wei (Vision Night Capital) who was CEO of Alibaba since 2006 till his resignation in February 11, 2011. See: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/02/22/why-alibabas-ceo-had-to-go/

      How Alibaba unlocked the door to online shopping in China [Reuters TV YouTube channel, Oct 1, 2013]

      Nearly a decade ago Alibaba Group launched Alipay — China’s answer to online payment giant PayPal. Today it’s seen as the magic password at the gate of China’s online commerce treasure trove.

      Note that Alipay was “the largest online platform in the world in terms of registered users, transactions and total payment volume” back in 2011 according to Forbes. The above video shows that now it has a dominant position in China (which is also the largest e-commerce market in the world this year):

      Background about the Alibaba Group and Alipay relationship (in order to see that the closing statement in the above video of not getting any benefit from Alipay is not true for the would be new shareholders of Alibaba):

      Alibaba Group, Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), and SoftBank (TYO:JP:9984) today announced they have reached an agreement in which Alibaba Group will continue to participate in Alipay’s future financial performance, including a future IPO or other liquidity event. The agreement is consistent with the two agreed-upon principles established at the outset of the negotiations: structure the inter-company relationship between Alipay and Taobao in order to preserve the value within Taobao and, by extension, within Alibaba Group; and provide that Alibaba Group is appropriately compensated for the value of Alipay.
      Key Terms of the Agreement:
      The agreement establishes the following:
      • The agreement preserves the existing relationship between Taobao and Alipay. Alipay will continue to provide payment processing services to Alibaba Group and its subsidiaries (including Taobao) on preferential terms.
      • Alibaba Group will license to Alipay certain intellectual property and technology and provide certain software technology services to Alipay and its subsidiaries. Alipay will pay to Alibaba Group, prior to a liquidity event, a royalty and software technology services fee, which consists of an expense reimbursement and a 49.9% share of the consolidated pre-tax income of Alipay and its subsidiaries.
      • Alibaba Group will receive no less than $2 billion and no more than $6 billion in proceeds from an IPO of Alipay or other liquidity event. The exact proceeds to Alibaba Group will be determined by multiplying the total equity value of Alipay by 37.5%, subject to the foregoing floor and ceiling amounts.
      “Over the last few months, we have worked cooperatively with our partners at Yahoo! and SoftBank to reach an agreement that serves the interests of all parties,” said Jack Ma, Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO. “This agreement is good for Alibaba Group and its stakeholders, including customers, employees and shareholders. Most importantly, Alipay was able to secure the license it needed to continue operating.”
      “This is a good outcome for Yahoo! and for our shareholders, as well as all the parties to this agreement,” said Carol Bartz, Yahoo! CEO. “As a result of this constructive process, we have an agreement that preserves the value of Taobao, provides for profit sharing at Alipay, and creates a structure to allow Alibaba Group to participate if Alipay’s value is realized in an IPO or other liquidity event. Alibaba Group and its management team have an impressive track record of value creation and we look forward to participating in Alibaba Group’s—and Alipay’s—continued success.”
      “This agreement was in part made possible by the strong long-term relationship and trust that exists between the principals at Alibaba Group, SoftBank and Yahoo!, and also lays the foundation for Alibaba Group to continue its impressive growth under the dynamic leadership of Jack Ma,” said Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO. “Alibaba Group is a clear leader in the China Internet business, the largest and fastest growing market in the world, and the close relationship with Alipay will allow Alibaba Group to strengthen that leadership position in the years to come.”
      Alipay provides payment processing services to Alibaba Group and some affiliates, including Taobao, and to third parties. Taobao is China’s largest online retail website. Alibaba Group’s principal shareholders include Yahoo!, SoftBank, and Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai. In May 2011, Alipay obtained a license to operate in China from the People’s Bank of China following the restructuring of Alipay. The license will enable Alipay to continue serving Taobao and its other customers in China.
      Alibaba Group management has taken actions to comply with Chinese law governing payment companies in order to secure a license to continue operating Alipay. The Alibaba Group board discussed at numerous board meetings over the past three years the impending imposition of new regulatory requirements on the online payment industry, including ownership structures, as they were being developed in China, and was told in a July 2009 board meeting that majority shareholding in Alipay had been transferred into Chinese ownership. The actions taken by Alibaba Group management to comply with the licensing regulations and to ensure continuation of operations are in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. The continued operation of Alipay is essential to the preservation and enhancement of the value of Alibaba Group’s businesses such as Taobao, as Alipay is the payments platform for e-commerce in these businesses.
      Kendall Law Group, a national securities firm led by a former federal judge with attorneys that include a former U.S. Attorney, announces a lawsuit filed on behalf of shareholders against Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) for alleged violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 concerning false and misleading statements regarding Yahoo’s business prospects.
      A class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of California on June 6, 2011. Yahoo shareholders who purchased stock between April 19, 2011 and May 13, 2011 are urged to contact the Kendall Law Group for more information at 877-744-3728 or by email at skendall@kendalllawgroup.com. Any shareholder who purchased YHOO stock during this time period may move the Court to serve as a plaintiff in this class action. If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff, you must move the Court for appointment by August 5, 2011. A lead plaintiff is a class member who acts on behalf of other class members in directing the litigation. Your ability to share in any recovery is not affected by the decision to serve as a lead plaintiff.

      From: Yahoo! Inc. Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q [May 10, 2011]

      To expedite obtaining an essential regulatory license, the ownership of Alibaba Group’s online payment business, Alipay, was restructured so that 100 percent of its outstanding shares are held by a Chinese domestic company which is majority owned by Alibaba Group’s chief executive officer. Alibaba Group’s management and its principal shareholders, Yahoo! and Softbank Corporation, are engaged in ongoing discussions regarding the terms of the restructuring and the appropriate commercial arrangements related to the online payment business.

      Regarding which in Yahoo Discloses Jack Ma Takes Control Of Alipay From Alibaba [Forbes, May 11, 2011]

      Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan writes in a research note this morning that “there are concerns that the People’s Bank of China will prohibit foreign ownership of a payment solution and having Alipay owned 100% by a domestic entity will be required to obtain the appropriate licenses.”

      Rohan points out that Alipay is the largest online platform in the world in terms of registered users, transactions and total payment volume; he’s been estimating the company’s value at $2 billion. The company has 550 million registered users, compared with 94.4 million for PayPal at the end of 2010.

      On May 10, 2011, Yahoo disclosed that its $1 billion investment in a strategic partnership with Alibaba Group Holdings Limited, China’s largest e-commerce company, had likely been severely impaired by the misappropriation of Alipay, Alibaba’s most valuable asset, from Alibaba to another private company, controlled by Alibaba’s Chairman, Jack Ma. On May 15, 2011, Yahoo announced that Alibaba, Yahoo and Softbank Corporation were “engaged in and committed to productive negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues related to Alipay in a manner that serves the interests of all shareholders as soon as possible.” News reports indicate that Alibaba received $46 million for Alipay’s assets, which securities analysts valued at $5 billion.
      The complaint alleges that Yahoo was informed no later than March 31, 2011 that Alipay’s structure had been shifted from Alibaba, therefore reducing the value of Yahoo’s investment in Alibaba by billions of dollars. The complaint also alleges that Yahoo failed to develop a strategy to recover the value it had in Alibaba, knowing that Chinese regulations regarding foreign ownership had been anticipated to change as far back as 2009, which would require Yahoo or Alibaba to divest themselves of Alipay. As a result of the alleged misstatements and omissions, Yahoo’s stock traded at artificially inflated prices during the class period.
      Kendall Law Group was founded by a former federal judge, includes a former United States Attorney, prosecutors and securities lawyers who are experienced in complex securities litigation. The firm has been counsel in numerous merger and acquisition cases nationwide, including some of the largest transactions in the United States.
      Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/24e22a/china_thirdparty) has announced the addition of the “China Third-party Payment Industry Report, 2010-2013” report to their offering.
      Third-party payment refers to an Internet-based means of exchange that provides online (Internet) and offline (telephone & mobile phone) payment channels enabling user-to-merchant online payment, fund settlement, inquiries and statistics, etc.
      In 2010, market transaction volume of third-party payment broke through RMB 1 trillion and registered RMB 1.1395 trillion [$176.2B] in China. However, third-party payment market is still in its infancy stage and is expected to develop rapidly in the next several years.
      People’s Bank of China issued Regulation on Payment Service of Non-financial Organization on 14 Jun. 2010, with the aim to officially supervise the domestic third-party payment industry. On 26 May 2011, People’s Bank of China granted the first batch of Payment Transaction License to 27 third-party payment companies including Alipay, Tenpay, ChinaPay and 99Bill. In terms of market share, the top three third-party payment service providers in China are Alipay, Tenpay and ChinaPay.
      My insert here from the How Alibaba unlocked the door to online shopping in China video above:

      China's online payment companies -- 2012 market share - excluding banks

      Alipay: Alipay is a third-party payment platform that belongs to Alibaba group. As of Dec. 2010, its number of registered users broke through 550 million, and daily transaction value reached RMB 2.6 billion [$402M] and daily number of transactions hit 11 million. It is expected that the annual transaction value of Alipay will achieve about RMB 1 trillion [$154.6B] in each of the next two years.
      TenPay: As Tencent’s third-party payment platform, TenPay accumulated 150 million personal users and over 400 thousand cooperative merchants till Dec. 2010.
      ChinaPay: ChinaPay is a third-party payment service provider with diversified business. Its business growth is mainly driven by those monopolistic fields including fund and insurance online payment. However, this monopolistic advantage is gradually diminished. In addition, with limited investment, online payment service is not the core business of ChinaPay, and its competitiveness is weak.
      99Bill: As of 30 Apr. 2011, with transaction volume over RMB 100 billion, 99bill has 91 million registered users and over 980 thousand business partners. During 2008-2009, 99Bill shifted its major business to the segment markets, including insurance and fund industries, to get involved in the differential competition.
      YeePay: YeePay is an integrated payment platform. Till 26 Nov. 2010, with over 10 thousand large and medium signed merchants, its daily transaction volume and number of transactions exceeded RMB200 million and 1 million respectively. Moreover, YeePay plays a leading role in the telephone payment market. During 2008-2010, it experienced rapid development in the fields of aviation, telecommunication and education.
      Chinabank Payments: The lower online payment price is the key competitive advantage of Chinabank Payments. In addition, its offline credit card payment business has the early entry advantage.
      Shengpay: With a registered capital of RMB250 million and about 250 employees, Shengpay is an independent third-party payment service provider belongs to Shanda Group. It provides payment solution for Shanda’s business including literature, music, film, recreation and tourism.

      Key Topics Covered:

      1. Overview of Third-Party Payment
      2. Market Environment of Third-Party Payment Industry
      3. Market Analysis of Third-Party Payment Industry
      4. Competition
      5. Key Licensed Enterprises
      6. Other Key Enterprises
      7. Market Forecast of Third-Party Payment Industry

      Companies Mentioned:

      • Alipay
      • TenPay
      • 99Bill
      • YeePay
      • iPS
      • Chinabank Payments
      • ChinaPnR
      • Shengpay
      • All In Pay
      • KuaiPay
      • Beijing Digital Wangfujing Technology Ltd. Co.
      • Property & Credit (Zihexin)
      • Open Union
      • Qiandai
      • SmartPay
      • Lakala
      • Shanghai FFT Information Service Ltd.
      • China UnionPay Merchant Services Co., Ltd.
      • Beijing UnionPay
      • ChinaPay
      • PayEase
      • Beijing Cloudnet Internet Co., Ltd.
      • Union Mobile Pay (UMPay)
      • BestPay
      • 95epay
      • Ecpss

      For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/24e22a/china_thirdparty