Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has finally confirmed it will be having an initial public offering in the U.S.
The event that could raise a jaw-dropping $15 billion, and value the e-commerce giant at $150 billion. That will be in line with Facebook’s public offering, which raised $16 billion, and was the third-largest IPO in U.S. history behind General Motors and Visa.
Alibaba’s announcement yesterday had immediate ramifications for Yahoo because it owns a 24 percent stake in Alibaba. Its stock was up nearly 5 percent, or $1.66 a share, to $39.26. The IPO will also pad the wallets of investment bankers, who will be launching the company on either the Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange.
However, the long-term impact of Alibaba entering the U.S. financial markets, will arguably be felt more by Amazon, which will be gaining a close competitor that will be beholden to the same strict accounting rules and be wooing the same shareholders and analysts.
Alibaba said as much in a statement made yesterday: “This will make us a more global company and enhance the company’s transparency, as well as allow the company to continue to pursue our long-term vision and ideals.”
If you aren’t already familiar with Alibaba, here’s one way to look at it: it’s the Amazon, eBay, Google, and PayPal of China, all wrapped into one. First and foremost, it’s an e-commerce company, focused on selling products and delivering them to consumers. It is also building its own mobile operating system to release its own smartphone; has payment technology, similar to PayPal; and operates cloud technology. But more than anything, it ranks data as its most important asset.
He told Todd: “Most people think of Alibaba as a business-oriented company, but we’re very committed to the technology…In 2008, long before we had this word called big data, in one of our strategy meetings, we knew that we were not just an e-commerce company anymore, but eventually we were going to be a data company. We believe that data is really the core asset for the company. The company is really driven by the mission and the vision, not just the business.”
In essence, it’s a whole lot like Amazon.
Financially speaking, here’s how it also compares to the U.S. online retailer.
In the three months through September, Alibaba’s revenue rose 51 percent to $1.78 billion from a year earlier. Net profit stood at $792 million, according to Yahoo, which releases some financial data about the company. In the same quarter, Amazon posted a loss of $41 million on revenue of $17.09 billion.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Alibaba’s revenues are far smaller than Amazon’s because the Chinese company doesn’t directly sell the products on its sites. But Alibaba’s business is highly profitable because many merchants who use its websites pay for other services and advertising. Furthermore, Alibaba’s total gross merchandise last year was $240 billion, or more than double the equivalent figure for Amazon last year, which was roughly $100 billion.
So far, the news of its IPO — whenever it might take place — isn’t having an impact on Amazon.
Amazon’s stock is essentially flat, trading up $2.51 a share to $376.25. But if Alibaba is able to raise money at a $150 billion evaluation, Amazon will have a new competitor. Its market cap currently sits at slightly more, or $173 billion.