Alibaba Group Holding Company is a Chinese e-commerce corporation that works to connect online businesses and marketplaces all over the world. The company is the largest e-commerce operation in China and has made its founder and chairman, Jack Ma, his country's richest man. Alibaba has often drawn comparisons to Amazon due to each company's respective dominance in local and global markets. A big part of Amazon's success has been due to its expansion from online retail services, and Alibaba now appears to be following a similar route.
As seen in recent years, Amazon has released its own tablets and readers, embraced music streaming, and launched an on-demand video service with original content. Its CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, also acquired The Washington Post and optimized the publication for use with Amazon products. In the course of two decades, Amazon went from an online retailer to its own media conglomerate, which has kept it not only relevant, but revolutionary in this day and age. From the other end of the world, Jack Ma took notes and drew up similar plans for Alibaba. Last year, the company bought a stake in ChinaVision Media and established its own film production company, Alibaba Pictures, which quickly became the largest of its kind in China. Just a month ago, Alibaba bought up Youku Tudou, one of China's largest online video providers, promising to boost its exposure and already-large market presence.
Now, Alibaba has taken additional steps by acquiring the South China Morning Post (SCMP), an influential English-language publication that has been in print for over a hundred years. The SCMP is well-known for publicizing issues in China not usually covered by its mainstream media, including human rights concerns. Alibaba's goal in acquiring the SCMP is to depict China in a more positive manner to the publication's market, which generally consists of Western audiences. Jack Ma has also discussed increasing the SCMP's traffic by getting rid of its paywall, which would certainly spread the message of the publication to a larger audience. Concerns have arisen over whether Alibaba plans on reaching this goal by censoring the SCMP to its ideology, but both Alibaba and the SCMP seem enthusiastic over the deal, perhaps eager for a chance to improve China's global reputation. While the goal of acquiring the SCMP differs from Bezo's goal in acquiring The Washington Post, it is essential to Alibaba's path to becoming a full-blown media group.
Alibaba's expansion to including video, film, and newspaper services is similar to Amazon's incorporation of new media in its everyday operations. Is Alibaba attempting to be as big of a media group as Amazon currently is, and does it want to become a new global competitor? It remains to be seen, but Alibaba will be a force to watch out for over the next few years.