In the mid-90s, Porter Erisman was working in China, doing Internet marketing for a big PR conglomerate, when he heard about a startup a local English teacher was launching to become the eBay of China. Erisman ended up spending eight years at Alibaba, enjoying a front-row seat as it rocketed into the big time — taking on the real eBay and soaring past $100 billion in valuation.
Now Erisman’s put together a documentary about the rise of Alibaba and its mercurial founder, Jack Ma. The film screens in Silicon Valley Sunday evening, when it will close the annual CAAMFest Asian film festival. I caught up with the Stanford grad Friday night, and we spoke briefly about the film’s title and about Alibaba’s strange romance with another Internet giant, Yahoo.
Erisman told me the movie has lessons for Silicon Valley tech companies wanting to do business in China. “I made the film,” he said, “for entrepreneurs.” Hear him talk more via Tout video here and here.