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How Alibaba became Asia's most valuable firm

1999: Jack Ma founds Alibaba with 17 other people in Hangzhou, China, with US$60,000.

2000: Alibaba Group raises US$20 million from an investor group led by Japan's SoftBank Group Corp.

2003: Mr Ma creates Taobao, an eBay-like site where consumers barter with one another.

2004: Alibaba creates Alipay, the online payments system that grows to become China's largest.

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2005: Alibaba takes over operations of Yahoo China.

2008: Taobao Mall (now known as Tmall) is created to allow merchants to sell to customers.

2010: The Alibaba Partnership is established to ensure management control of the company.

2013: Mr Ma steps down as CEO, but remains executive chairman.

2014: Alibaba conducts the world's largest initial public offering, raising US$25 billion when it lists in the US.

2015: Current CEO Daniel Zhang takes the helm at the company on May 10.

2018: Mr Ma announces plans to step down as executive chairman of Alibaba in 12 months with CEO Zhang succeeding him. Mr Ma will remain on the board until Alibaba's annual meeting of shareholders in 2020. BLOOMBERG