‘Alibaba hasn’t changed, investors’ perception has’

Beijing, Sep 29 (IANS) As the Alibaba Group’s stock continued to fall, its former vice president Porter Erisman, defending the group, said the market was over-reacting.

“In the one year since it went public, almost nothing changed about Alibaba. The only thing that changed was the outsiders’ perceptions,” Xinhua cited Erisman as saying on Tuesday.

Though Alibaba’s shares have slid below its IPO price of $68 per share, Erisman was not surprised.

“Given China’s slower economic growth rate, that seems pretty reasonable to me,” he said.

When Alibaba went public a year ago, it was a top pick for investors. Its initial public offering was the biggest in history. The company peaked last November, with its stocks trading at about $119 followed by a long slow slide.

“If anything, it just proves to me that a company should not be focusing on what the investors say,” said Erisman, who worked for Alibaba between 2000 and 2008.

When Erisman first joined Alibaba, he was told the company would go public in one month. But when the internet bubble burst in 2000, the idea was abandoned.

He said: “It’s probably the best thing that’s happened to Alibaba. If you’re just chasing the IPO, it’s easy to get lost, because you’re just trying to make a good story for investors.

“Much better to build a great company that focuses on the customer and then an IPO comes naturally,” he said.

He believes Alibaba’s record-breaking IPO “proved that its patience paid off, focusing on the long term”.

When Alibaba was launched, e-commerce and even internet, in general, had not taken off in China. By focusing on empowering small businesses, the company was one of the first to help e-commerce take roots in China.

Erisman said Alibaba’s business model was more suitable for developing countries, as e-commerce in the West was more about big companies and retailers.

“The place where the infrastructure is least developed, actually, in the long term, that’s the greatest opportunity,” he said.

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