Case - Alibaba Group

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Alibaba Group

At Alibaba, strategy and organization go hand-in-hand. Every year we change 'the organizational structure in tandem with changes in strategy. Jack Ma, Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group, stared through the fog at the cable stays of the Hangzhou Bay Bridge whistling past on his drive to the offices of Taobao ("hunting for treasures"), Alibaba's online marketplace for Chinese retailers and consumers. The longest transoceanic bridge in the world had a long gestation period: the feasibility studies took a decade. and even after their approval the plans changed to connect the northern end of the bridge to Jiaxing, rather than the Jinshan suburb of Shanghai as initially planned. When the bridge was opened to the public
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The Alibaba Croup also offered online payment services through Alipay, internet-based business management solutions through Alisoft, an online advertising exchange in Alimama, and an entertainment portal in China Yahoo!. In 2008, Alibaba Group had six substantial business units that were organized as independent subsidiaries (see Exhibit 1).
During the rapid evolution of China's e-commerce markets, Ma launched a variety of highly autonomous businesses to help Alibaba Group establish a leadership position and grow revenues to $636 million for the twelve-month period ended June 30, 2009 (see Alibaba Group financial data in Exhibit 2). At this point, Ma wondered how to bring Alibaba's businesses to their fullest potential.

Should he maintain the competition among the subsidiaries that had helped the Alibaba Group develop its leadership position in China's e-commerce markets? Should Ma leave his companies alone, or even take steps to further the independence of the companies he had founded and grown?
Did it even make sense to continue to hold all of these independent companies within one group? If so, what could be done to foster collaboration among them?
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