- Alibaba executives denied claims made by a user on the Chinese blogging site Weibo that the e-commerce giant inflated sales numbers around Singles Day.
- Peng Mei – project manager for communications on Singles Day and PR director of Tmall, the retail site owned by Alibaba – responded to the allegations in a post on WeChat, threatening legal action and calling the post “very sensational.”
- “It’s one thing to please yourself with this kind of crazy thoughts,” Mei wrote in a WeChat post obtained by Business Insider. “But once you state publicly that Tmall’s 11.11 numbers are fabricated, you are creating rumours and you have to be legally liable for such actions.”
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A viral post on the Chinese blogging platform Weibo is putting Alibaba’s top leaders on the defensive.
Alibaba’s Singles Day shattered sales of comparable annual US shopping events including Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday when it brought in more than $US38.8 billion in sales last week. However, a Weibo post alleging the e-commerce giant misreports and inflates Singles Day sales has prompted several Alibaba executives to speak out against the allegations.
The widely circulated and since-deleted post – written by Yin Liqing, a department manager at Beijing Infobird Software Co. Ltd., back in April – stated that sales from the shopping event fit a suspiciously perfect linear model. Liqing included a graph of a mathematical formula to demonstrate his assertion of falsified numbers, claiming sales grew at an almost perfect linear rate with more that 99% overlap over the past decade.
In response, Peng Mei – project manager for communications on Singles Day and PR director of Tmall, the retail site owned by Alibaba – responded to the allegations on WeChat, threatening legal action and calling the post “very sensational.”
In the WeChat post, which was obtained by Business Insider, Mei attached a photo of Liqing’s original post, superimposed with a red stamp that translates to “false rumour,” according to someone who viewed and translated the post.
“This kind of prediction is very sensational,” Mei wrote. “If you believe in this netizen’s logic, you will have to forget about your understanding on the traditional statistical formula. Do you think the world’s economy can be predicted, and the world’s development can be faked?”
Mei continued, stating that if similar posts ensue, Alibaba will take legal action.
“It’s one thing to please yourself with this kind of crazy thoughts,” she wrote. “But once you state publicly that Tmall’s 11.11 numbers are fabricated, you are creating rumours and you have to be legally liable for such actions.”
In response to a request for comment, an Alibaba spokesperson directed Business Insider to statements made by Alibaba cofounder Jack Ma at an entrepreneurs event in Zhejiang, China, as well as comments made by Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang at an event in Beijing. Both denied that the sales numbers had been falsified.
“11.11’s numbers surpassed forecasts and went beyond what most people expected from today’s economy,” Ma said. “Wall Street predicted that 11.11 would grow by around 20%, a sign that China’s consumption is weak and the economy is slowing down. But our numbers actually grew 25.7%. Some people suspect that our numbers are fake, but I can promise everyone that every single cent is real in today’s data and internet era.”
Likewise, the Alibaba spokesperson paraphrased comments Zhang made at the “Observing China Forum” last week, noting that it “is not possible for anyone to fake such numbers” because the purchases are recorded digitally and “the platforms do not have the power to manipulate data.”