Have you ever dreamed of running into a genie in the woods and getting to say that wonderful phrase “Open Sesame” ? It first appeared in that wonderful fable known as Alibaba and the Forty Thieves. The new millennium version is an e-commerce powerhouse based in China which seems to be kickstarting a rebirth of the dot com millionaires who vanished into digital neverland more than a decade ago.
This month, Alibaba launched an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Their stated objective was to raise more than $167 -billion dollars … that’s billion, with a B. That’s bigger than the market value of digital giants like Amazon and eBay, and it may be only the beginning of a whole new round of craziness on the markets.
The person in charge is Jack Ma who will turn 50 in a couple of weeks. He is the first man from China to make it on the cover of Forbes Magazine. So far, the Alibaba IPO has been more successful than even he had dreamed of.
He is now personally worth more than $26-billion. As a young child in 1972, he watched in wonder as Richard Nixon became the first U.S. President to visit China and begin the process that has led the Chinese economy to become the most formidable of the Asian Tigers.
He started Alibaba in his garage in 1999. By the way, just about all of us here in Canada are investors in Mr. Ma’s little fruit stand, whether we want to be or not. The Canada Pension Plan has invested $160-million, and as of about 15 minutes ago it was worth at least twice that much. Yahoo is a much large investor, and the Alibaba phenom is encouraging other similar startups. Does anyone else find all of this just a little scary?
Open Sesame if we must, but maybe keep a bit of cash in the mattress, just in case.
I’m Roger Currie