Most of these Alibaba entities are household names to Chinese consumers. It’s difficult to live a day without using some of them: Alipay is the default mobile payment method for many; Didi is the only ride-hailing option; internet users watch videos on Youku or Tudo, socialize on Weibo, and shop on Taobao or Tmall.

However, Alibaba has gone far beyond a collection of Western copycats. The broad spectrum of integration has created business opportunities that are innovative and unique to the Chinese market. There is no Western equivalent to Hema, the offline supermarket powered by consumer data, or Cainiao Logistics, a data-logistics platform that integrates warehousing, dispatching and delivery. Alibaba isn’t just assembling existing companies, it’s creating new ones along the way.

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