In 2005, when the scrappy Chinese e-commerce company Taobao was locked in battle with eBay for control of the lucrative China market, Jack Ma, the former English teacher who founded Taobao parent company Alibaba, confidently predicted that victory would be his: “Ebay may be a shark in the ocean, but I am a crocodile in the Yangtze River. If we fight in the ocean, we lose – but if we fight in the river, we win.”
He was not only right, he underestimated his company’s potential. Taobao (which means “searching for treasure” in Mandarin) isn’t a mere crocodile today, it’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Or a mutant creature from another planet hell-bent on global domination. Point is, it’s big – very big. Just eight years after its launch, Taobao has 370 million registered users across its three main platforms – more than the entire population of the United States.