Tag Archives: IPO

阿里巴巴旋風 「江鱷能戰大海」? (經濟日報-科網神話再現24.9.2014)

HKET_Alibaba_article

科網神話再現

正如馬雲所說:「eBay是海洋裏的鯊魚,而阿里巴巴是長江裏的鱷魚。如果我們在海洋搏鬥,我們會輸。但如果我們在長江裏搏鬥,我們會贏。」

阿里巴巴剛於上星期五在美國主版上市,成為全球史上最大的上市項目之一,並且是繼科網巨擘Apple、Google及Microsoft之後市值全球最高的科技巨企,比排行第4的Facebook還要高。

在2013年,阿里巴巴的銷售額超過2,400億美元比起電子商貿巨企Amazon及eBay合共銷售額還要高,全球矚目。阿里巴巴來自中國,令人不禁聯想中國會否成為另一個矽谷,孕育下一代的科網巨擘?而它與那些矽谷孕育出來的科技企業,是否擁有同樣「成功的基因」?

美國矽谷一直領導全球為科網企業的孕育地,不論在質量及多元化上,都是領先全球。矽谷獨有的開放文化及創新思維,鼓勵創意的氣氛,以及成熟、完善的創業生態環境,過往造就了無數成功的例子如Google、Facebook、Twitter及Whatsapp等。

 

世界工廠龐大市場  致勝關鍵

在亞洲,你會在中國找到如阿里巴巴、騰訊及小米等「大型」科技公司,但他們並非於「矽谷」般的環境成長,只可說是在中國「獨有文化」市場上成功的例子,與那些矽谷孕育出來的科技公司,擁有著截然不同的基因 。

中國是全球人口最多的國家,超過13億人,被視為全球最大的消費市場,她亦是「世界工廠」,龐大的顧客群、無數的工廠及供應商全都在中國,這個獨有的供求環境,讓交易成本大幅降低,間接地零售價格亦然 ,造就大量商機,令內地及世界各地的企業家都希望在中國市場上分一杯羹。

 

網購超美國  成就國產Amazon

阿里巴巴常被喻為「中國版的Amazon」,但其營運模式完全不同,阿里巴巴的淘寶網不是營運自己的網上商店,而是提供一開放銷售平台,讓中國過百萬的中小企直接售賣產品予個人或公司顧客,從中不收取任何行政費,而是鼓勵賣方買廣告, 令其產品在過千、眾多的產品中突圍而出,成功吸引目標顧客。淘寶網的成功之處在於超低價格吸引龐大顧客群,同一件貨品,淘寶網的價格可低至Amazon價格的十份之一。

此外,中國顧客是全球網上購物最活躍的一群,平均每月網上購物8.4次,遠遠拋離美國的5.2次 。這些重複的購物習慣形成了阿里巴巴的穩定銷售來源。加上中國市場並非開放,政府政策偏向有利本地企業,如果你並非中國人或擁有強大的本地人際網絡,很難在中國生存,直至現在Google、Facebook等仍不能進入中國市場,這些種種因素造就了阿里巴巴在中國的神話。

 

中國非矽谷  知識產權成挑戰

在中國做生意最大的挑戰是:保護知識產權。阿里巴巴的淘寶網充斥大量的次質及冒牌貨品,以國際運動品牌Columbia為例:超過8成在淘寶網上聲稱為Columbia的產品都是冒牌,以致Columbia公司每月需向淘寶網發出3,000個落架要求。這種抄襲的文化及價值觀,已成為了主流習慣,除非你的產品十分難被抄襲,否則也難逃厄運。內地抄襲的能力之高、速度之快是全球「首屈一指」,甚至乎抄得比原創更好。在沒有完善法律保護下,侵權行為成了自然不過的事,當原創、創意不受保護及尊重時,那你又怎能期待中國能夠培育出如矽谷般的創新、創意企業?

在中國內地,政府政策有權朝聞夕改,如突然更改稅制、禁制某產品或服務等,可以毫無解釋,而且沒有渠道或方法推翻決定,這是在內地做生意的最大風險之一。在中國雖然人才及資金不缺,但市場封閉,阻止內地公司與世界競爭,所以我相信中國不會成為另外一個矽谷,只能說是「另外一個獨立世界」, 若你懂得如何在這獨特的「遊戲規則」及「封鎖環境」下競爭,那你便有機會成功,而阿里巴巴就是一個好例子。

 

如鱷魚出海  改造成敗仍未知

正如馬雲所說:「eBay是海洋裏的鯊魚,而阿里巴巴是長江裏的鱷魚。如果我們在海洋搏鬥,我們會輸。但如果我們在長江裏搏鬥,我們會贏。」

現在鱷魚要闖出大海了,馬雲也深明阿里巴巴與其他矽谷科技巨擘有著不同的基因,所以他積極大量徵募國際科技公司的員工,以及嘗試加強與Yahoo!等國際科技公司的合作,至於他能否成功改造阿里巴巴的基因,請大家拭目以待。

(文章僅代表個人立場)

原文刊於《香港經濟日報2014年9月24日

Can Alibaba topple the Silicon Valley giants? (CNN – Vitual think tank 19.9.2014)

Can Alibaba topple the Silicon Valley giants?
By Ping Wong, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Ping Wong is an information technology and communications professional with more than 10 years’ experience, specializing in business development and marketing in Hong Kong. She is currently Secretary-General of Internet Society Hong Kong. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ping Wong.

(CNN) – Internet giant Alibaba secured its place in history Thursday as the largest U.S.-listed initial public offering (IPO) of all time.

Alibaba, which achieved more than $240 billion in gross merchandise volume last year – more than that of Amazon and eBay combined — has become one of the largest technology companies in the world.

That Alibaba is a Chinese company has important implications and begs the question: Will China become the next Silicon Valley, a breeding ground for the next generation of technology giants?

Silicon Valley has long led the world in the quality, quantity and diversity of technology startups it incubates. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have flourished under Silicon Valley’s mature and complete startup ecosystem, with its open and free market and culture and innovative environment.

The picture is quite different in Asia where thus far, only a few large technology companies have emerged. Alibaba,Tencent and Xiaomi were not nurtured in a Silicon Valley type environment, but they are successful examples from the unique Chinese market.

Opportunities

With more than 1.3 billion people, China is not only the world’s largest country, but also its biggest consumer market. Home to a huge number of factories, manufacturers, suppliers and customers, China is also called the “World’s Factory.” This unique demand and supply environment helps reduce businesses’ transaction costs and, indirectly, retail prices, creating a world of opportunities for entrepreneurs from China and abroad.

Often called the “Amazon of China,” Alibaba’s business model is in fact completely different from that of the online retail giant. Alibaba’s Taobao is not in itself an online shop but an open eCommerce platform where millions of small businesses and suppliers can sell directly to individual or business customers.

Unlike Amazon, which charges commissions on transactions, Alibaba does not incur administrative charges on sellers or buyers; instead, it offers sellers paid advertising opportunities that will allow their products to stand out among the thousands of others on the platform. Alibaba’s success stems from its huge traffic and competitive retail prices.

This competitive weapon piggybacks on another factor: Chinese customers are the most active online shoppers in the world, shopping an average of 8.4 times online each month, far outpacing American customers, who shop 5.2 times.

Repeated transactions by these customers contribute significantly to a steady sales volume and to Alibaba’s success in China.

Everything to know about Alibaba

Challenges

Opportunities come with challenges. The greatest challenge for entrepreneurs in China is the protection of intellectual property. Taobao is flooded with defective and counterfeit products: 82% of products labeled with the Columbia brand on Taobao are fakes, and the brand has had to get up to 3,000 listings taken down a month.

This is a rather unique problem in China, unlikely to be found in other parts of the world.

China is a separate world where one can thrive only with a good knowledge about the rules of the game.

Without a strong legal system, copyright infringement is becoming a natural tendency. Unless a product is very difficult to duplicate, it is likely to be copied in China. These skillful and efficient perpetrators make such convincing cloned products that they often surpass the original on many levels. In a way, this is stifling creativity and innovation — innovations are being copied, rather than respected and protected.

In addition, government policies such as taxation and embargoes may be changed or imposed at anytime, without reasonable explanation and without channels or methods of reverting the decision. Any such unexpected policy changes may have significant impact on businesses, and are interpreted as one of the biggest risk factors of doing business in China.

Despite adequate talent and capital, the closed market prevents local businesses from competing globally. Business owners who are not Chinese or do not have local connections face a much greater risk of failure.

Because of the reasons above, I don’t believe it is realistic to compare China to Silicon Valley. Rather, it can be described as “a separate world” where one can thrive only with a good knowledge about the rules of the game.

Alibaba is an example of a company that has achieved a “cultural fit” in China. But whether Alibaba or other homegrown Chinese technology companies can hold their place in the competitive global market, or surpass the Silicon Valley-bred giants, remains to be seen.

Original article was published on《CNN – Virtual think tank》on 19 Sep 2014