Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) is the dominant force in Chinese e-commerce, with a footprint that’s rapidly expanding around the globe.
Its founder and CEO, Jack Ma, is a visionary like Jeff Bezos that places technology at the forefront of retail revolution. The strategy has worked, and as Fortune reports, the company’s biggest rival, Tencent, is beginning to look a lot more like Alibaba every day:
Both have market capitalizations that hover around half a trillion U.S. dollars. Both command sectors of the rapidly growing Chinese digital landscape: Tencent owns the leading gaming and messaging platform, while Alibaba rules e-commerce. Both are aggressive investors inside and outside China. Each is the pride of their not-quite-first-tier hometowns: Alibaba of the ancient city of Hangzhou near Shanghai and Tencent of shiny-new Shenzhen across the border from Hong Kong. Finally, both touch an astounding percentage of the world’s most populous country: Alibaba’s various online marketplaces count 552 million active customers; Tencent’s WeChat messaging service recently surpassed 1 billion accounts.
While the two companies operate in different core areas (e-commerce vs. gaming/messaging), they’re increasingly encroaching on each other’s turf. There’s a massive showdown developing, and the winner may not only dominate China, but the entire world one day.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd shares closed at $202.01 on Friday, down $0.20 (-0.10%). Year-to-date, BABA has gained 17.15%, versus a 3.83% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.