Alibaba is China’s biggest e-commerce company, with $1 trillion in gross merchandise sales and $72 billion in revenue in 2020. But forays into mobile payments—its service touts 1.3 billion global users—catapulted this Goliath into a major political stakeholder, unnerving China’s top leaders. Friction between Alibaba’s charismatic founder, Jack Ma, and the Chinese government resulted in regulators suddenly nixing the record-breaking $37 billion IPO of Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Group, which was subsequently ordered to restructure. In April, Alibaba agreed to pay a fine of $2.8 billion, imposed for breaching antimonopoly rules—a sign, according to some analysts, that both sides are looking to the future.
2021 TIME100 Most Influential Companies