SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) the origin for the Alibaba’s success
Few people know that the Alibaba online shopping system has become powerful due to the diseas
In the days of confinement in the house for fear of infection, Alibaba employees have created a new method of trading, the source for future success of the company, which is the online shopping system.
The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) from 2002 to 2003 became the nightmare with many countries in East Asia. And nowhere more than China, where the disease affected thousands of people and killed hundreds. Many Chinese recall how empty the streets were in those dreadful months, as hundreds of millions of people stayed home to avoid exposure to the killer virus.
No one knows that the terrible scene boost the China’s e-commerce sector. Unwillfing to go out for anything but the essentials, many Chinese began shopping online. One big beneficiary was Alibaba, then in its infancy, and now the colossus of the Chinese internet.
SARS is an obsession with many Chinese but it is the source for the development of Alibaba
As Duncan Clark, author of a new book on Alibaba, writes:
Although it sickened thousands and killed almost eight hundred people, the outbreak had a curiously beneficial impact on the Chinese Internet sector, including Alibaba. SARS validated digital mobile telephony and the Internet, and so came to represent the turning point when the Internet emerged as a truly mass medium in China.
The virus gave a major boost to texting, which increased business for cellular companies like China Mobile. However, SARS also boosted the three Chinese Internet portals thanks to revenue-sharing agreements with the telecom company. As the shares in Sina, Sohu, and NetEase began to climb, investor interest in Chinese technology companies was suddenly reignited. Cell phone usage wasn’t the only thing to benefit; broadband Internet access got a huge lift, too, as millions of people, confined to their homes or dormitories for days or weeks on end, looked to the Internet for information or entertainment. (…)
Reliable information about SARS was hard to come by, especially in the early months of the outbreak, when China’s official media, including state broadcaster China Central Television, stayed mute. Instead people looked to their cell phones and PCs to learn about the virus and the best ways to protect themselves. Crucially for Alibaba, SARS convinced millions of people, afraid to go outside, to try shopping online instead.
Clark also points out that the SARS outbreak coincided with the arrival of high-speed Internet in many homes. "This was the time when many Chinese families started to be offered broadband Internet connection so they had chances to experience things they could do when they stuck indoors. Few years later e-commerce sector began to boom in China, but it originated from this disease’.
Jack Ma, the Alibaba founder, allowed his employees to resr at home during the worst period of the outbreak. One team gathered in Jack Ma’s apartment in Hangzhou—the birthplace of Alibaba to find the new idea for thei company.
At that time, Alibaba was a business-to-business service. The team came up with an idea that would eventually evolve into Taobao, the company’s big thrust into business-to-consumer services. Taobao is now the backbone of Alibaba’s e-commerce empire, one that serves over 330 million online shoppers.
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