Some 80% of e-commerce web site in China is handled by Alibaba.com, so when we say the internet retailer is a major player in China, we’re not exaggerating. But just what businesses comprise the giant?
Alibaba’s (BABA) main web site, Alibaba.com, allows manufacturers from all around the world to buy products from China – it’s a gateway to the world’s second largest economy.
But it also hosts a number of other sites.
It’s biggest business is TaoBao – an online marketplace kind of like eBay (EBAY). Anyone can post products to the site for free. However sellers can pay Alipay to prioritize their products via search.
That means Alibaba also has search technology, like a Yahoo (YHOO) or Google (GOOGL). While Alibaba does not operate an independent search engine, this technology does come in handy. Remember, when Yahoo invested in Alibaba, the Chinese company took over all of Yahoo’s China operations.
(Disclaimer: Yahoo owned a 22.5% stake in the company, and planned to sell $8 billion dollars worth of shares during the IPO.)
Alibaba also has an upscale shopping site called Tmall which operates kind of like Amazon. On this site, retailers pay Alibaba to list their products. U.S. companies like Nike (NKE) and Apple (AAPL) list their products in China on this site. The NFL also sells merchandise on Tmall.
Alibaba is also expanding into other areas outside of e-commerce. The company has begun offering daily deals. While it’s on a much smaller scale than, say, Groupon (GRPN) it’s a new frontier for the company.
Mobile gaming may also be on the horizon. Alibaba launched a mobile gaming platform earlier this year to compete with Chinese rival Tencent. But the strategy also pits it against U.S.-traded competitors like Zynga (ZNGA) and Candy Crush-maker King Digital (KING).
Lastly, Alibaba has a “long-term” symbiotic relationship with China’s PayPal – a related company called Alipay that used to be part of Alibaba. Alipay was spun off in 2011, but continues to pay a chunk of its revenue to Alibaba. Alipay is so instrumental to the company that it is mentioned in Alibaba’s F-1 filing 245 times.