By Alan Murray and Geoffrey Smith
November 13, 2017

Good morning.

Saturday was Singles Day. If you still don’t know what Singles Day is, the time has come to learn—you can read a primer here. In short, it’s a 24-hour lonely-hearts-celebration-turned-shopping-extravaganza, hosted by Alibaba and its charismatic CEO Jack Ma, that has become the world’s biggest shopping event, reaching a mind-blowing $25 billion in sales this year and dwarfing Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

As the event ended Saturday night in China, a live sales ticker showed 163 billion yuan in total sales, up 39% from last year, and more than the annual GDP of Iceland. And it’s not just an Alibaba thing, either., one of its biggest e-commerce rivals, said it generated $19 billion from a rival event leading up to Singles Day.

Ma launched the event with a gala in Shanghai Friday night, and his star-studded stage included not just Chinese celebrities, but the likes of Nicole Kidman and Pharrell Williams. Over 140,000 brands offered special discounts for the sale, including P&G, Estee Lauder, Starbucks, Bose, Nike, Gap, and more.

Among other things, the event demonstrates the growing power of Alibaba’s mobile payment system, Alipay, which is far more sophisticated than anything similar here in the West, and is the leading counter to the notion that China lags the U.S. in innovation. Indeed, Singles Day, as contrived as it may be, makes clear that Chinese consumers are now setting the pace for global commerce. For consumer product companies, you can’t win the world if you aren’t winning in China.

I’ll be interviewing Ma early next month at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, which is our premier CEO-level event for global business. Among the other CEO attendees: Alex Gorsky of J&J, Pony Ma of Tencent, Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup, Frans van Houten of Royal Phillips, Terry Gou of FoxConn, Carlos Brito of AB InBev, Stuart Gulliver of HSBC, Henry Kravis of KKR, Mark Hoplamazian of Hyatt, and Chuck Robbins of Cisco. Attendance is by invitation only, but CEO Daily readers get special consideration. You can get more information here, or shoot me a note directly if you are interested.

More news below.

Alan Murray


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