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The Alibaba culture: Kung fu commerce with a dash of theatre

Published on Jun 8, 2014 5:10 PM
 
People walk at the headquarters of Alibaba in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on April 23, 2014. When Jack Ma and his colleagues sat down in 2001 to lay out Alibaba's defining values, they named them after a martial arts technique drawn from Ma's love of kung fu novels and their heroic themes. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING/HONG KONG (REUTERS) - When Jack Ma and his colleagues sat down in 2001 to lay out Alibaba's defining values, they named them after a martial arts technique drawn from Ma's love of kung fu novels and their heroic themes.

But the corporate culture of China's biggest e-commerce company also draws heavily from Western values in a mix of East and West that Ma dubbed 'Hupan culture' after the apartment block in Hangzhou where he set up his business.

These core values, now named the 'Six Vein Spirit Sword' - customer first, teamwork, embrace change, integrity, passion and commitment - shaped Alibaba Group Holding, which began as an online bulletin board for companies in Ma's Hupan Huayuan apartment complex in eastern China.

Alibaba's aspirations helped it grow from just 18 employees to more than 20,000 today. Along the way, it knocked eBay Inc out of China and is now preparing for a US stock listing that could be the biggest tech IPO to date.

 
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