Alibaba, the biggest IPO to ever hit Wall Street, made a huge splash in its debut on Friday.
Shares of the Chinese e-commerce giant opened at $92.70. That marks a 36% pop from the $68 price of its record-shattering initial public offering. The first day of trading can be very volatile. Alibaba continued to climb and nearly hit $100 before sinking back down to around $93.
The early bounce signals optimism among investors about Alibaba's (BABA) ability to continue its rapid growth trajectory as China's middle class grows and buys more and the company possibly expands to other parts of the world.
Unlike the disastrous 2012 Facebook (FB, Tech30) IPO on Nasdaq, Alibaba's first few minutes as a public company went smoothly. That's good news for the New York Stock Exchange, where Alibaba chose to list its high-profile IPO under the ticker symbol "BABA."
Alibaba raised $21.8 billion late Thursday by pricing its IPO at $68 per share. That's the largest ever IPO for a company listed on an American exchange.
BEIJING — China's richest man celebrated his 50th birthday last week in the United States and expects his company will last twice as long, plus two years.
Revealing his ambition — and a love of numbers common in China — Jack Ma says Alibaba will last 102 years so the Internet empire he founded in 1999 can span three centuries.
Under Ma's maverick leadership, the 15-year-old firm has already bridged a period of extraordinary change in global trade and the Chinese economy. In a nation with little e-commerce but plenty of Communist Party bureaucrats, he raised a still-growing giant whose U.S. initial public offering, which will start trading under the BABA ticker Friday, is the largest in history.
REJECTED BY KFC
His rags-to-riches journey is just as spectacular. A scrawny Ma, just over 5 feet tall, was rejected by KFC and other employers in his hometown of Hangzhou in east China. He believed in the Internet's business potential when few other Chinese did. Outlandish ideas earned him the nickname "Crazy Jack Ma." No one thinks he's mad now, even when dressing in wild wigs and lipstick for his annual meeting where he serenades a stadium full of Alibaba employees.
Ma's readiness to make fun of himself, and speak his mind, stands in contrast to China's often conservative corporate barons. Charismatic and energetic, this former teacher has become an inspiration to millions across China. He flunked at math but loved English, and countless books and DVDs sell his business lessons in every airport lounge.
Ma — whose net worth is $21.9 billion,according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — now stars in the coming-out party for China's private sector onto the world stage. He praises and uses Western management techniques but also quotes regularly from Chairman Mao Zedong. He is a fan of China's kung fu novels and made those legends part of his company's culture. He travels the world with a tai chi trainer.