Visit to the Alibaba Headquarters

By Valentin Beuchat and Sébastien Quadri, Junior Project Leaders

On May 25, swissnex China joined SwissCham in visiting the headquarter of Alibaba in Hangzhou which gathers more than 16’000 employees!

It was a great opportunity to learn more about the most well-known Chinese success story, with deep insights and impressive figures.


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Data is the new natural resource

Just to name a few examples, Alibaba Cloud is the backbone of their operational activities with large amounts of data being received and processed through the numerous platforms (e.g. Toabao, Alipay, Yokou, etc.).

During the single-day shopping festival that occurs each year on 11.11, cloud records demonstrate highest peaks of 325,000 orders and 256,000 payment transactions in one second. In only 1 day, Alibaba sees more sales volume and revenue than the entire USA during the black Friday!

Originally founded in Hangzhou, Alibaba is also improving its hometown with its innovative program dubbed “Hangzhou City Brain”. With the extensive network of CCTVs in town, the Alibaba Cloud can monitor and analyze various traffic parameters (e.g. traffic jam, car’s speed, plate, etc.), predict the traffic and then optimize the traffic lights to smooth the traffic.

This ever-growing flow of data is used by Alibaba to build an entire ecosystem around its products. On a B2C level for instance, Alipay is not only a financial services provider, but also a social platform; a life- and city-services provider; a guide to restaurants, leisure activities, travel destinations, and shopping experiences, etc.


Alipay goes international

As more and more Chinese travel abroad, Alipay follows them during their entire journey by having its own booking agency, then by recommending shops and restaurants that accept Alipay at the destination, by offering some coupons and special offers, by making the VAT refund process smoother (everything is done in the Alipay app), and by updating consumer profile and further recommendations based on the data acquired.

In Switzerland for example, the holiday resort Davos now has many businesses (restaurants, hotels, shops) accepting Alipay for Chinese tourists (for more information, see


An “H&H” vision

An interesting culture of “Health and Happiness” can quickly be noticed on the campus. Jack Ma, perceived as a great leader, implemented various creative ways to enjoy the working time and to give a “family feeling” to the employees.

Thanks to Alibaba for the invitation, SwissCham for the organization, and Quintus Dienst for the great presentation!