It’s tempting to describe Alibaba (BABA) as a Chinese alternative to American online retail giants like Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY). But Alibaba’s business model is in some ways surprisingly different from the leading e-commerce businesses in the U.S. Alibaba is comprised of three core businesses:

  • Alibaba
  • Taobao
  • Tmall

All three are brand names for e-commerce websites that connect various types of buyers and sellers, allowing Alibaba to act as a middleman to China’s emerging e-commerce industry.

  • Alibaba Group operates three big companies, serving the business-to-business market, the mass consumer market, and the upscale consumer market.
  • In all of these businesses, Alibaba is the middleman, hosting buyers…

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