Is there any other way to interpret this ‘test’?
Google launches Google Supplier Director Beta to connect companies with suppliers in China
Alibaba’s core business is all about B2B commerce, especially China-based B2B commerce. Given how aggressive Google has recently been about shutting down businesses that are not core to its long-term strategy, it’s instructive to note that this project got greenlighted.
It’s perfectly within their MO, of course – build a basic version of a competitor’s core product, and make it free. Have they bit more than they can chew this time? Is this really just a test? Time will tell.
There's enough analysis on why (http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/30…) it makes (or does not make) financial sense for Alibaba.com to buy Yahoo! There's also enough thought being put to why this might, or might not transpire (http://www.marketwatch.com/story…).
But there's a very simple, intuitive and emotional reason why I tweeted many months back in July (http://twitter.com/#!/akumar/sta…) that either Baidu or Alibaba will acquire Yahoo – it is the right logical move for a China-based Web giant to expand out to the World; with a brand that's already pretty well-established, and well-respected globally.
All over the world, Yahoo! has done a fabulous job staying relevant locally. Abha and I have travelled extensively, and we can report that from Costa Rica, to Egypt and Israel, to India and Japan – people might know Yahoo! is a US-based company, but they still feel it understands them like a local.
This isn't a coincidence – the Yahoo! organization has traditionally been very supportive of locally-driven product development, content generation and strategic partnerships. When I was at Yahoo!, this was sometimes maddening, sometimes infuriating – but what it did mean was that the local Yahoo! sites were able to react quicker to market dynamics, and build a relationship with their audience that was closer, than if the central US team was managing everything top-down.
Meanwhile, after conquering local markets, Chinese Web companies are ready to take on the world. While companies like Huawei haven't been afraid to go direct to the West; they have had their work cut out in establishing brand awareness. What if you could own a brand that's already well-recognized, has great market share, and not have to worry about emerging local cultural sensitivities? It'd be a no-brainer!
In short, whatever the financials look like for a Yahoo!/Alibaba tie-up, it makes a whole lot of strategic sense for a company with Global ambitions.
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