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Can Alibaba regain its magic?

ANDLIBABA USED be synonymous with the success of Chinese e-commerce. The company has been synonymous with its woes lately. In 2021, he became the grimacing face of an official attack on China’s largest technology companies, whose growing size and apparent social indispensability must have frightened the Communist Party. It was fined a record $2.8 billion for monopolistic practices that the government says harm customers and traders. Its co-founder, Jack Ma, disappeared into self-imposed exile. Rivals like PDDwhich started as a group-buying platform, and ByteDance, the owner of TikTok and its Chinese sister app Douyin, have proven better at meeting the needs of frugal consumers and adapting to new trends such as “social commerce” that combines shopping and showbiz.

By the end of 2022, Alibaba’s market value, which had topped $800 billion two years earlier, had fallen below $170 billion, close to a record low since its initial public offering (AND AFTER) in 2014. To reverse this decline, in March last year the company decided to split into six parts. Five companies were identified: a logistics company (Cainiao), a cloud computing company (Aliyun), an international e-commerce company (which included the main global platform Alibaba, AliExpress and several regional subsidiaries), a digital services company (which controls Ele.me , a food delivery app) and a small media group. Alibaba proper has retained its domestic retail business, which centers around Taobao and Tshopping mall, its two giant marketplaces and which accounts for nearly 70% of the group’s revenues.