You may not have heard of Alibaba, but you’re about to learn all about the world’s largest e-commerce company. Headquartered in China, Alibaba has filed papers to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the US.
The IPO is expected to raise more than the $16 billion Facebook raised two years ago, an offering that hasn’t panned out all that well for investors. (Although Facebook’s stock price has stabilized since and, as of Wednesday, has risen to over 58.)
I’m not here to offer investment advice. As readers of this blog know, I think the stock market is basically a crapshoot much akin to gambling. But the brand of Alibaba intrigues me.
It’s a pretty powerful one. Alibaba has been described as a combination of Amazon, eBay and Google. It is bigger than eBay and Amazon combined.
IPOs on tech companies are always risky, but I like that Alibaba has cornered the market in East Asia (even fending off an attempt by eBay to get into the Asian market) with a position of “Global trade starts here.”
The theme line is not perfect because it’s more about the company than the user, but Alibaba does fulfill that brand promise. It also speaks to global investor/seller/buyers who see themselves as operating without boundaries.
You’ve heard it before but we are continuing to live in a global world and the country of China probably represents that as much as the US does. Maybe more. It is currently the second-largest economy in the world but some experts predict it’ll become the largest in the next few years.
That’s why the “global” aspect is interesting ground for Alibaba. China has a mixed brand at the moment. Some see it as representing the future, while others see it as dangerous. Alibaba, with its gigantic market force, represents that as well.
The IPO is sure to be huge. The stock price may tumble or rise. But Alibaba does represent something that may be important, which means it must be taken very seriously by its US competitors as well as investors.