Alibaba Is Overpriced and Overhyped—So What Else Is New?

TIME

Jack Ma was lousy at math as a kid, and began his career as an English-language instructor in Hangzhou, China. He seems to have addressed that deficiency quite nicely. Ma, 50, is executive chairman of Alibaba, China’s biggest internet commerce company, which just launched an Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange that raised some $22 billion. It’s the biggest IPO on record. Alibaba’s shares were priced at $68—the high end of the range set by investment bankers—but when trading started the price jumped to $92.70. That values the company at about $232 billion, bigger than Facebook, IBM, Amazon and that tech fossil IBM. Ma’s shares are worth close to $18 billion, even after selling some $867 million in the IPO.

Alibaba does little retail business in the United States; it was originally designed to provide an online wholesale marketplace that connected Chinese companies with buyers all over…

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