All eyes in the tech industry are on Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba after it finally kickstarted its long-awaited IPO by submitting its prospectus. As many talked up the event, which may very well be the world’s biggest IPO potentially raising up to $20 billion, some in the US are puzzled that Alibaba hasn’t explicitly announced plans to expand its consumer-to-consumer eBay-like empire into the US — think in particular of its marketplace Taobao. On the other hand, Alibaba has always had international business-to-business operations. It also has AliExpress, which pivoted last year to allow individual consumers to purchase goods from Chinese manufacturers at wholesale prices, that is linking China up to the world.
As Alibaba prepares for what could be the biggest tech company IPO to date, the Chinese e-commerce giant has been counseling employees on how to deal with the roughly $41 billion they could unlock through a New York listing. While some staffers have enquired if premium brand BMW (BMWG.DE) sells cars in Alibaba’s corporate orange, others may invest windfall stock gains in property in North America or channel funds back into start-up ventures inChina, hoping to build future Alibabas, bankers and financial planners say. The company, though, has been preparing employees for years on how to manage the avalanche of cash, warning them not to be carried away and splurge on material goods. While Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s (IPO-ALIB.N) co-founders Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai are already billionaires, many more paper millionaires could be minted once employees are free to sell shares some time after the IPO. Current and former Alibaba employees hold 26.7 percent of the company, having built up their holdings through stock options and other incentives awarded since 1999, according to securities filings, though these didn’t detail the number of employee shareholders.