Alibaba co-opted it in 2009 as an excuse to push winter coats, and the rest is history: Since then, China’s online audience has grown to more than 800 million consumers by Alibaba’s count. Along the way, Singles Day has matured into the single biggest shopping day in the world—selling more than $25 billion in 24 hours last year. The New York Times put this into perspective: Alibaba sold $1 billion in the first two minutes, which is equivalent to what Amazon sold in 1,800 minutes (or 30 hours) of Prime Day 2017.

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Only in American retailers’ wildest dreams could they sell more than $1 billion of merchandise an hour, yet that’s exactly what happened in China on Singles Day last year. China, which has long been the world’s most populous nation, surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest retail market in 2016. And that’s why even on Amazon’s best day—which to date is Prime Day 2018, when it reportedly needed 12 extra hours to sell a measly $100 million per hour—it doesn’t come close to ecommerce platform Alibaba and Singles Day.
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LinkedIn, meanwhile, actively promotes its half-billion-plus membership base as an asset to colleges in search of students. It, too, is focused chiefly on the postgraduate market, after a brief foray into the world of undergraduate admissions. (In 2014 it began a college-ranking site and related services, but it shuttered most of those features two years later.)


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