Alibaba Shares Surge On First Day Of Trading : The Two-Way Shares of the Chinese e-commerce giant opened at $92.70 a share on the New York Stock Exchange today, making it the biggest initial public offering in U.S. history. They were priced at $68 a share.
NPR logo Alibaba Shares Surge On First Day Of Trading

Alibaba Shares Surge On First Day Of Trading

Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma has much to laugh about. Shares in the company opened Friday at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company is now valued at more than $200 billion — that's bigger that Amazon and Facebook. Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption

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Mark Lennihan/AP

Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma has much to laugh about. Shares in the company opened Friday at $92.70 on the New York Stock Exchange. The company is now valued at more than $200 billion — that's bigger that Amazon and Facebook.

Mark Lennihan/AP

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba opened at $92.70 a share on the New York Stock Exchange today, making it the biggest initial public offering in U.S. history.

The offering price for a share of the company was set at $68.

NPR's Zoe Chace, who is following the story, tells our Newscast unit:

"The nearly $93-a-share initial trading price shows that demand is really high for a piece of this company. It's that pop that brand-new public companies want. Makes the deal sexy, and more people want to get in on it. Why is it doing well so far? Alibaba is growing quickly. It's profitable. It's got the vast majority of online Chinese consumers using its site. And its CEO, Jack Ma, has big plans."

"We want to be bigger than Wal-Mart," Ma told CNBC today. "We hope in 15 years people say this is a company like Microsoft, IBM, Wal-Mart — they changed, shaped the world."

NPR's Frank Langfitt recently profiled Ma, who started Alibaba in 1999 after he gathered friends in an apartment in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

NPR's Chace adds that at $92.70, Alibaba is already worth more than $200 billion, bigger than eBay and Amazon, and more valuable than Facebook.

Unlike companies like Amazon, Alibaba doesn't directly sell anything. Instead, it connects consumers with small businesses. And one reason investors are so enamored of Alibaba is that it offers a window into China's large middle class. Here's The Associated Press:

"Alibaba's Taobao, TMall and other platforms account for some 80 percent of Chinese online commerce. Most of Alibaba's 279 million active buyers visit the sites at least once a month on smartphones and other mobile devices, making the company attractive to investors as computing shifts away from laptop and desktop machines.

"And the growth rate is not expected to mature anytime soon. Online spending by Chinese shoppers is forecast to triple from its 2011 size by 2015. Beyond that, Alibaba has said it plans to expand into emerging markets and eventually, Europe and the U.S."