How Alibaba became an $800 Billion company in 20 years

This episode is a discussion with Maggie Zhou – Managing Director at Alibaba Australian & New Zealand. We talk about how Alibaba went from a small business in Jack Ma’s apartment in Hangzhou to the $800 billion conglomerate it is today, plus we talk about how Australian and New Zealand businesses can expand into China using Alibaba’s tmall global service (which I highly recommend you check out).


You’re listening to The Growth Manifesto Podcast, a Zoom video series brought to you by Webprofits – a digital growth consultancy that helps global and national businesses attract, acquire, and retain customers through digital marketing.

Hosted by Alex Cleanthous.


  • 00:00:28 Maggie Zhou’s introduction to the Growth Manifesto Podcast
  • 00:01:21 Maggie talks about her 21 year journey in Alibaba along with the company’s growth & changes throughout the years
  • 00:05:39 How it was like in the beginning of Alibaba and the origin of the “Alibaba” name
  • 00:08:41 How hard was it to grow Alibaba in the beginning?
  • 00:11:46 Maggie explains how Alibaba had different goals at different stages in the business and how that helped their growth and profitability despite many challenges
  • 00:17:32 Maggie tells stories about Alibaba filing for its IPOs plus experiencing the global economic crisis and how Jack Ma was able to inspire them through those challenging times
  • 00:22:19 Maggie talks about how Alibaba is a dream-driven company and how its value system was able to create a good company culture across a huge amount of staff
  • 00:25:47 Why did Alibaba’s vision change from “making it easy to do business anywhere” to “being a good company that will last for 102 years”?
  • 00:27:22 What has changed in the company since you changed the vision?
  • 00:32:49 What led to you becoming one of the co-founders of Alibaba’s C2C-focused business, Taobao?
  • 00:39:27 How Taobao eventually led to the creation of Alipay
  • 00:41:06 How long did it take until Taobao eventually caught up to eBay and how did you actually beat eBay?
  • 00:45:47 What was it like to work so closely with Jack Ma?
  • 00:49:35 What were some of the biggest things you’ve learned from Jack Ma?
  • 00:52:06 What do you think it was about Jack Ma that led him to grow Alibaba to nearly 1 trillion dollars in value from a small apartment in Hangzhou?
  • 00:56:34 What’s Alibaba’s goal in Australia?
  • 00:59:45 How do you help companies sell their products to China through TMall?
  • 01:07:19 Can Alibaba Australia also help with production as well or is it just mainly through selling?
  • 01:09:33 Maggie and Alex talk about how Alibaba’s values leads to its success
  • Adrian Clark

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