After months of speculation, the official paperwork for Alibaba’s IPO has landed at the Securities & Exchange Commission.
The Chinese Internet giant, which threatens any number of U.S. technology companies, is expected to have one of the largest U.S. public offerings ever, putting it the same company as Facebook, General Motors and Visa.
The 343-page document begins to peel back the covers on a business that has no direct comparison in the U.S., but overlaps with any number of companies, including Amazon, eBay, PayPal and Google.
The short-term impact of the IPO will be all about the windfall for those working on Wall Street, however, long-term, Alibaba’s financial listing in the U.S. could have much larger ramifications. It could put pressure on U.S. tech firms, like Amazon, which will now have an international competitor that is beholden to the same strict accounting rules and is wooing the same shareholders and analysts for time, attention and money.
Here’s some highlights from the filing:
- The company’s underwriters include a who’s who list: Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citi.
- Alibaba still hasn’t picked what stock exchange — the NYSE or Nasdaq.
- The company has registered to raise up to $1 billion, although that’s considered a placeholder. In all likelihood, it will raise a jaw-dropping $15 billion.
- Alibaba did not specify how many shares wants to sell, although insiders tell Bloomberg it wants to sell about a 12 percent stake in the business.
- It has three main retail marketplaces in China: Taobao, Tmall and Juhuasuan. Together the three generated gross merchandise volume (GMV) of $248 billion from 231 million active buyers and eight million active sellers in 2013. (Triple the size of eBay and double the size of Amazon.)
- Mobile is huge: In final three months of 2013, Alibaba’s mobile GMV accounted for 19.7 percent of its total, up from 7.4 percent in the same period in the previous year.
- The company was started in Founder Jack Ma’s apartment in 1999, and formed an entity called Lakeside Partners, named after the “Lakeside Gardens” residential community where Ma and the other founders started the company.
- Lakeside Partner is also known as the Alibaba Partnership, which operates as the senior leadership of the company (a format that saves it from having to deal with a lot of bureaucracy and hierarchy, it claims).
- Its reporting currency is the Renminbi, but for the convenience of the reader, they’ve translated all figures into U.S. dollars at a rate of RMB6.2164 to US$1.00.