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The company's valuation, a wide range between $150 billion and $250 billion, puts it in the top 10 of the world's biggest tech companies -- a list that includes Apple, Google, and Facebook. In China, the 49-year-old Ma, sometimes called the company's spiritual leader, has a celebrity following. Like Amazon, Alibaba runs several platforms and services that are related to e-commerce. While Alibaba's original site serves as a platform for suppliers to sell goods to other companies, it owns several other sites. These include TaoBao, an eBay-like consumer-to-consumer sales site, and TMall, which lets brands and businesses sell to consumers. The Internet giant also has its own messaging platform and cloud computing service.

Another notable business is the company's affiliate Alipay, which processes the company's e-commerce payments, Similar to PayPal, Alipay allowed Alibaba to do online business at a time when most of the country's residents didn't own credit cards, Though the Alibaba Group launched the Alipay service r kelly iphone case in 2004, the two are now technically separate companies, after Ma spun out the payment service in 2010, The move generated a lot of controversy with investors Yahoo and Softbank, which claimed they had not approved the deal, Alibaba is reportedly exploring regaining a stake in Alipay, though any such deal would almost certainly be made after the IPO..

But Ma's Alipay decision may factor into how Alibaba's IPO is priced, said Jay Ritter, a professor of finance at the University of Florida. Because of corporate governance issues like that one, the company may have to choose a price that's 10 to 20 percent lower than it could otherwise fetch, to attract investors worried about that risk, said Ritter. An Alibaba spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. Founded in Hangzhou, China, Alibaba's decision to list in the US is a loss for the Hong Kong market. Regional financial leaders hoped for a locally-held offering, which would have been a boon for the Chinese business landscape. But after disagreements with Chinese regulators over listing rules -- specifically over a company's control of appointments to its board of directors -- Alibaba chose to go public in the US.

As the company heads toward its market debut, which is expected sometime this fall, it has enlisted Credit Suisse, Deutsche Back, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, and Morgan Stanley to underwrite the process, Some of the company's investors include Silverlake and, of course, Softbank and Yahoo, Even r kelly iphone case though Alibaba's importance has to do with more than Yahoo, the two companies are intimately tied, Yahoo owns a 22.6 percent stake in the company, After Alibaba's IPO, Yahoo could end up with $12 billion in cash on its balance sheet, according to Carlos Kirjner, an analyst at Sanford C, Bernstein & Co, Anticipation for the IPO has helped double Yahoo's stock in the last year, giving Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who took over the company in July 2012, a more valuable acquisition currency while she's tried to turn around the lumbering tech giant..

But while ties to Alibaba have been a financial godsend for Yahoo, they've also been a reminder of the aches in Yahoo's core business: The company's total market capitalization is about $39 billion. Subtract that from its stakes in both Alibaba and Yahoo Japan -- another Asian asset that's been a boon to Yahoo's finances -- and investors seem to be saying that Yahoo's core business is worth less than nothing. Last month after Yahoo announced first-quarter earnings, the company's stock rose 8 percent despite mostly unimpressive financial results, mainly from investor excitement over Alibaba's success.

In the lead up to Alibaba's IPO, the company has been on a patent buying spree, purchasing most likely in preparation of its US debut, It owns 102 US patents and has applied to purchase 300 more for functions like payment processing, product recommendations and picture searches, Bloomberg reported last week, Bulking up on patents makes the company less susceptible to lawsuits from competitors who may want to throw a wrench into Alibaba's IPO plans, As the company sets out for the public market, it also faces some challenges, Similar r kelly iphone case to Facebook at the time of its IPO, Alibaba is in an environment where its users are shifting from desktop computers to smartphones, and the company will need to adapt..

While Alibaba's e-commerce operation is colossal, 90 percent of transactions come from personal computers, according to the Wall Street Journal, and not mobile devices. Plus, regional competitors like the messaging service Tencent and the search engine Baidu are encroaching more on the e-commerce space, especially on mobile devices. So Alibaba must goad its customers onto smartphones to attract advertisers, particularly since the company makes much of its revenue by selling ads to vendors who want their storefronts to stand out.

Fortunately for Alibaba, there's precedent, Almost two years after Facebook went public in a similarly sized IPO, the social network now makes the majority of its advertising revenue -- 69 percent -- on mobile, One of the world's fastest-growing Internet companies finally files its US r kelly iphone case initial public offering, seeking about $20 billion, reports speculate, After years of anticipation, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba made history on Tuesday when it filed for an IPO that could be the biggest such offering the US has ever seen..