Alibaba bags investments ahead of IPO

The Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, is set to be the world’s largest Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the NYSE.

Source: Bloomberg

It’s estimated in the region to be between $115 to $245 billion and potentially eclipsing Visa as the biggest US listing.

So what will investors be really buying into? Besides high profile marketplaces, Taobao and TMall, there’s a whole gamut of other pieces that are in Alibaba’s bag.

Part of Alibaba’s strategy is to take minority investments in companies to feel out its relationship with potential acquisition targets, before buying the entire company.

In May, it splashed $249 million for a 10% stake in Singapore Post to beef up its delivery network in Southeast Asia. This rocketed the SGX-listed stock prices up over 8% the next day.

Some of its quirkier moves include a ventured into sports, when it snapped up half of top Chinese football club, Guangzhou Evergrande, for $192 million in early June.

Most notably, it’s been gathering pieces to ramping up investments in the mobile space and appears to be getting gearing up to break into the US market.

Here’s a timeline of how Alibaba has developed and some of its key milestones since it was founded 15 years ago by former English teacher, Jack Ma.




What happened


Alibaba founded

Starts as a B2B portal to connect Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers


Taobao Marketplace

Consumer e-commerce site launched



Often dubbed China’s PayPal, it offers payment and escrow services. (Alibaba has divested its financial interest in Alipay for regulatory reasons, but still benefits from ongoing partnerships)



Yahoo buys 40% stake for $1 billion



Online marketing technology platform launched


Hong Kong listing listed on HKEX, floats 17% share for $1.5 billlion

2008 Tmall B2C ecommerce site launched, a more exclusive and stringent platform featuring established
brands and companies
2009 Alibaba Cloud Computing Services include e-commerce data mining, e-commerce data processing, and data customisation.
2010 Juhuasuan Group buying site launched
2010 eTao Price comparison shopping site launched
2010 AliExpress Online marketplace launched to connect wholesalers and consumers, focussing on small volume orders
2011 Network of warehouses Announces plans for network across China to help with logistics
2011 Aliyun OS

Unveils self-developed mobile operating system, dubbed China’s version of Android

2012 Share buyback Buys back half of Yahoo’s 40% stake, goes private in $2.3 billion deal
2013 Jack Ma retires Jack Ma steps down as CEO at the age of 48, but stays as chairman. Company reorganises  25 business units, Chief data officer Jonathan Lu takes over
2013 Sina Weibo Takes 18% stake in 'China’s Twitter' for $586 million
2013 Laiwang Drops support for rival Tencent’s messaging app WeChat, to promote its own service
2014 Youku Tudou Buys 16% stake in video streaming site for $1.22 billion
2014 TangoMe Messaging application 
2014 Lyft Invests $249 million in ride-sharing app 
2014 IPO filing In May, Alibaba files for US IPO, estimated at $115 to $245 billion
2014 11 Main Shopping site for US market launched
2014 IPO listing? Investors are still waiting on the exact date on when the listing will debut, now speculated to be in September.


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