Alibaba's initial public offering will unleash a flood of wealth for founder Jack Ma and his partner Joseph Tsai. But unlike some other recent tech IPOs, the big money isn't being spread around the company.
The IPO, which could be largest ever, is expected to price after the close of trade Thursday and begin trading on the NYSE Friday under the ticker symbol "BABA."
According to regulatory filings, Ma's 206.1 million shares could be worth between $13.6 billion and $14 billion at an estimated share price of $66 to $68. Even after Ma cashes in more than $850 million of shares in the IPO, the value of his remaining Alibaba stake will still be greater than Rupert Murdoch's entire net worth.
Alibaba's second biggest individual windfall will be for Tsai, Alibaba's vice chairman. His 83.5 million shares will be worth between $5.5 billion and $5.68 billion at the current price range. And he's selling around $300 million worth of shares.
Yet beyond Ma and Tsai, there doesn't appear to be any other director or executive set to become a new billionaire. According to the filing, all of the other 10 top directors and executive officers hold a combined 52.3 million shares, or about 2 percent of the company.
A few could still net hundreds of millions of dollars. But none—at least according to the filing—will join the 10-figure club. That's surprising given that Alibaba is the largest IPO ever. And it stands in contrast to Facebook, where the 11 top executives and officers below Mark Zuckerberg owned 13 percent of the company and several became billionaires.
Of course, some shareholders of Yahoo and Softbank, which hold big positions Alibaba, could become indirectly rich. Masayoshi Son owns around 20 percent of Softbank, which owns 34 percent of Alibaba—so his share of the Alibaba IPO would theoretically be worth more than $10 billion.
Yet Alibaba's IPO riches will be notably top heavy, even by tech standards. Twitter's IPO had four big shareholders—Dick Costolo, Evan Williams, Peter Fenton and Jack Dorsey—who each had more than 1.6 percent of the company. All executive officers and directors as a group held 25.5 percent.
"If you have a couple of million, you're a rich guy. We have $10 million to $20 million, it's capital. Over $100 million, that's social resources."
GoPro's IPO wealth went well beyond its founder, Nicholas Woodman, who became a billionaire with the IPO. The other 11 officers or directors held nearly a quarter of the company. So what does Ma plan to do with his cash-and-paper fortune? Probably give most of it away. In an interview with Charlie Rose in 2010, Ma said that anything over $100 million is really "society's money" not his own.
"To me, I've never thought the money I have belongs to me ... it belongs to society," he said.
"If you have a couple of million, you're a rich guy. We have $10 million to $20 million, it's capital. Over $100 million, that's social resources. That's society giving it to you saying: 'you guys run it.' So it's not my money. I don't think I can spend it. I can only sleep in one bed. I can only eat three dinners. That's all. What is money for?"
Whatever that money is for, Ma will have a lot more of it after Friday morning.
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