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What motivated Porter Erisman to join Alibaba in the early days, before the company gained worldwide attention?

He was already in China helping Western companies enter and grow in the Chinese market. Then came his chance to bridge the emerging Chinese internet and e-commerce space with the rest of the world.

Little did he know then that it would become the opportunity of a lifetime.


Why Alibaba?


One of the reasons Porter Erisman joined Alibaba is because the company ''was trying to do something which had never been done before, which was a Chinese internet company going global.''

''At the time when I was working in Beijing I was helping foreign internet companies come into the China market. But I almost could not resist when I was offered the chance to be based in China but work internationally and trying to expand this internet company from China to the rest of the world.''


Early Challenges


He soon discovered many challenges. There were not many staff or managers who had been through this type of experience before, and trying to find the right people to bridge between China and the West was difficult.

''Sometimes you might find the best expert at something,'' said Porter, ''but they did not understand China and they could not get along with the local staff very well.''


Bridging Local and International Perspectives


Porter captured some of Alibaba's tension points in his documentary entitled Crocodile in the Yangtze.  Until he left, Porter was one of the key senior staff to lead Alibaba's outreach abroad. 

According to Porter: ''I think it is important for any company, whether they are coming into China or a Chinese company going global, to have at the core those people who serve as the bridge or even the cartilage between the Chinese operations and the international operations.''



See more about Porter's story


Watch more from Porter on Working Closely With Jack Ma



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