Valued at $68 per share on the eve of its initial public offer, Jack Ma's Alibaba rewarded investors by opening up public trading at $92.70 per before quickly climbing up to $99.70 per. Yahoo stuck gold, but its early sale of Alibaba shares cost it an additional $3 billion.
Alibaba is a Chinese e-commerce site that grew from a platform for business-to-business sales to support consumer shopping and a payments platform. Jack Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 and served as the company's CEO up until 2013.
Investors have been salivating at the chance to buy shares of the Chinese company that has grown into a global power.
"This is the most-anticipated event I've ever seen in my 20-year career on the floor of the NYSE," said Mark Otto, partner with J. Streicher & Co, a New York Stock Exchange floor trader. "I think today's move is sustainable: The company is profitable, unlike some of its competitors, and it is a way for traders to tap into the Chinese growth story."
Yahoo sold 121.7 million shares of Alibaba on the eve of the e-commerce company's IPO. Yahoo made $8.3 billion from what many would call a premature sale, but the Internet company would have made $11.3 billion if it would have just waited a day to sell off its shares.
Sprint parent SoftBank, however, didn't sell off any of its Alibaba shares and holds a 34 percent stake in the e-commerce company.
"This is only a beginning," said Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Corp. "Alibaba continues to grow inside China, but also globally. This IPO in New York makes a good entry to the global expansion."
For investors still holding on to Alibaba shares, the e-commerce darling isn't without tangible risks, said Walter Todd, chief investment officer for South Carolina's Greenwood Capital Associates.
"That can be a risky process," Todd said. "The real question would be after the IPO, how does it perform going forward? They need to deal with investors, manage earnings calls, which requires experience to get there."
One of the fears surrounding Alibaba is the company's obscure structure: the company is governed like a partnership in which its 30-member steering committee can nominate its own board of directors. The company can give less voice to investors and more control to whomever they want.
Josef Schuster, chief executive officer at IPOX Schuster, said Alibaba's governance structure would likely be a concern to shareholders when their voices are muted.
"Someday it will be significant, but not today," Schuster said. "And maybe not for five or 10 years, until shareholders see what is going on and are frustrated by having no say over it. ... Fundamentals and governance catch up eventually."