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Founded in 1999 by Jack Ma as a bridge between China and the rest of the world, a B2B platform connecting small Chinese manufacturers with buyers overseas, Alibaba has grown steadily to become an e-commerce giant in China. Dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as "a mix of Amazon, eBay and PayPal with a dash of Google," Alibaba handled 80% of all online retail in China in 2013. The company operates an eBay like consumer-to-consumer site called Taobao.com, an Amazon like business-to-consumer portal called Tmall.com, as well as PayPal like online payment system called Alipay (Zhifubao in Chinese.)

Alibaba processed $248 billion in transactions volume in 2013. On November 11, 2013, the company's 'Singles' Day' promotion sales exceeded $5.7 billion on a single day, five times the total sales volume of all e-commerce websites combined in the U.S. on Black Friday. Alibaba is expected to become the largest IPO in the world when it goes public on Friday, September 19, 2014.

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