MONEY Google

10 Ways Google Has Changed the World

Google Earth view

It's been a decade since Google went public. Here are 10 ways the company has transformed the market—and our lives— since.

Back in 2004, investors weren’t entirely sure what to make of Google, and skeptics abounded. Fast-forward to today, when we can look back at how far the company has come, in ways that inspire both awe and concern. Below are 10 examples of its influence.

1. It has changed our language. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts, there’s a reason “Bing” never caught on as a verb, let alone as a beleaguered anthropomorphic meme. The phrase “to Google” is so popular that the company is actually worried about losing trademark rights if the term becomes generic, like “escalator” and “zipper,” which were once trademarked.

2. It has changed our brains. Recent research has confirmed suspicions that 24/7 access to (near) limitless information is not only bad for human discourse—it’s also making us worse at remembering things, regardless of whether we try. And even if we aren’t conscious of it, our brains are primed to think about the Internet as soon as we start trying to recall the answer to a tough trivia question. Essentially, Google has become our collective mental crutch.

3. It set the stage for Facebook and Twitter’s sky-high valuations. Yes, lofty valuations based on mere speculation were also common back in the dot-com fervor of the ’90s, says Ed Crotty, chief investment officer for Davidson Investment Advisors. But Google broke new ground by proving that even just the potential for a huge audience could pay off in a big way.

“In the early days, when people were thinking in terms of web portals, the barriers to entry didn’t seem high for search,” Crotty says. That meant Google’s competitive advantage wasn’t clear. But “the tipping point was when Google was able to scale up their audience enough to attract ad agencies, and then further improve their algorithms, since those get better with scale. That’s partly why you see tech companies now willing to forgo profits for a period of time in order to build an audience.” And also why investors are willing to throw money their way.

4. It has taken over our cell phones. Since the first Android phone was sold in 2008, Google’s mobile operating system has bulldozed the competition. Today it claims nearly 85% of market share, nearly doubling its hold over the last three years. Next stop, self-driving cars?

5. It has transformed the way we use e-mail. Gmail was invented a decade ago, before bottomless inboxes were a sine qua non. It’s hard even to remember those dark ages when storage space was sacred—and deleting emails was as tedious-but-necessary as flossing. Today our accounts serve as mausoleums, housing long-forgotten files, links, and even whole relationships. Google itself has touted alternative uses for Gmail, such as setting up a virtual time capsule for your newborn—though in practice accounts can’t be owned by anyone under 13. But even that last point is about to change.

6. It’s changed how we collaborate. Back in 2006, Google acquired the company behind an online word processor named Writely. With that bet, Google created a world where it’s taken for granted that people can collaborate on virtually any type of document, whether for work, play, or (literally) revolution.

7. It has allowed us to travel the globe from our desks. Yes, MapQuest was popular first. But Google Maps (and Earth) has become much more than a tool for measuring travel routes and times. Since Google Street View came onto the scene in 2007, it’s been possible to “visit” distant destinations, give friends a virtual tour of your hometown, plan ahead of trips, and waste even more time on the Internet. Of course, the more popular a tool, the more useful it is to those who’d like to spy on us.

8. It has influenced the news we read. Ranking high in Google search results is serious business and can have a profound effect on the success of companies, media outlets, and even politicians. When I just Googled “how SEO affects journalism,” this link was at the top of my search results. How is that significant? Well, for one, that story itself has been so successfully search engine optimized that it still tops the list despite being four years old.

But most importantly, many of the concerns raised in the piece have not gone away—such as the pressure to “file some pithy blog post about the hot topic of the moment” at the expense of covering stories that would be prioritized based on traditional measures of newsworthiness. What that means for you, the reader: more headlines like this and this.

9. It has turned users into commodities. We all love free stuff, but it’s easy to forget that services offered by companies like Google and Facebook aren’t truly “free,” as data expert Bruce Schneier has pointed out. Remember that all of your data (across ALL of the services you use, and that includes Calendar, Maps, and so on) is a valuable good that Google is packaging and selling to its real customers—advertisers.

10. It’s changed how everyone else sees YOU. Unlike your Facebook profile, the links that turn up when potential employers (or love interests) Google you can be near-impossible to erase. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Google uses the fear of embarrassing search results to encourage people to manage their image through Google+ profiles.

4 Crazy Google Ambitions
The 8 Worst Predictions About Google

TIME facebook

Here’s How Facebook Doubled Its IPO Price

Facebook Holds f8 Developers Conference
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening kenote at the Facebook f8 conference on April 30, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Facebook's stock doubled its IPO price by midday Thursday

Facebook suffered a cruel summer back in 2012. The social network raised its IPO price just before going public in May 2012, but technical glitches during early trading caused mass investor confusion. Nasdaq eventually paid a $10 million fine over the debacle, and Wall Street showed no mercy to the social network in the ensuing months. Facebook’s stock cratered, diving from $38 to below $18 before the following autumn.

Two years later, the sun’s shining bright on the tech giant. Facebook beat analysts’ expectations yet again in its latest quarterly earnings report, generating revenue of $2.9 billion and earnings per share of 42 cents. That sent the company’s stock soaring above $76 during midday trading Thursday, doubling its IPO price of $38. That’s also more than quadruple the social network’s all-time low close of $17.73.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 1.25.08 PM

Facebook’s massive turnaround has everything to do with mobile. When the company went public, its revenue was almost completely tied to desktop ads–exactly the kind of business investors in the mobile era don’t like. With more than half a billion people already accessing Facebook on mobile, the company had to prove that it could successfully transition its business. CEO Mark Zuckerberg set a laser-like focus on mobile strategy, and he forced his executive clique to do the same.

The dedication has paid off. Facebook now generates more than two-thirds of its total ad revenue on mobile and has more than a billion mobile monthly active users. Overall ad prices jumped 123 percent year-over-year, partially because mobile ads placed directly in users’ News Feeds are more valuable than ads on the right rail of the site served to desktop users.

But what really has Wall Street salivating is the fact that Facebook has plenty of mobile monetization moves left to make. New auto-playing video ads in users’ News Feeds could help the company lure marketers from television. Instagram introduced ads last year that are being positioned as an attractive option for brand marketers. The company is also likely to figure out ways to make money off its messaging goliaths Messenger and recently-acquired WhatsApp.

Overall, it’s clear that Facebook has solved its mobile conundrum, and Wall Street is rewarding it handsomely. With its share of the overall mobile advertising market quickly increasing, the company may soon to be able to challenge Google to be at the top of the totem pole of mobile.

TIME Companies

GoPro Stock Gets Mad Air Following IPO


Action camera company GoPro is off to a radical start on its first day as a publicly traded company. GoPro’s shares, initially priced at $24 for its initial public offering, jumped to almost $32 as of noon Thursday as investors warmed to the popular camera line. The company raised $427 million in the IPO, netting it an initial valuation of nearly $3 billion.

At a time when smartphone cameras have largely decimated the sales of dedicated point-and-shoot and video cameras, GoPro has carved out a lucrative niche as a prominent brand in extreme sports. The startup sold 3.8 million of its Hero HD cameras in 2013 and grabbed 45 percent of the camcorder market in the U.S., according to the company’s IPO filing. GoPro generated nearly $1 billion in revenue last year, up from $526 million in 2012. The company’s profits also reached new highs, jumping from $32 million in 2012 to $60 million in 2013.

The brand’s success stems from its many passionate evangelists. Star athletes such as snowboarder Shaun White and surfer Kelly Slater endorse the company’s cameras, while legions of wannabe action stars are constantly uploading footage from their GoPros to YouTube, steadily boosting the company’s name recognition. Remember that crazy video of a camera falling from a plane and landing face-up in a pig pen? That clip, which now has 15 million views, might as well have been a GoPro ad promoting the cameras’ much-heralded resiliency.

Videos related to GoPro racked up 1 billion views on YouTube in the first quarter of 2014 alone.

GoPro’s grassroots success in video explains why the company now has ambitions to becomea media company as well as a hardware manufacturer. The camera maker has an app on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One that serves as a kind of TV channel, serving up curated footage shot with GoPros. The company also has a channel on Virgin America flights showing action footage.

This shift in focus could be necessary to keep the company growing. GoPro’s revenue declined 7 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period last year, indicating that the market for its relatively niche product may have already peaked. Profits were down even more. But even if people buy fewer GoPros in the future, the company’s brand can be monetized in other ways as long as fans are filming everything from waterski breakdancing to kitten rescues with its cameras.

MONEY chinese stocks

What's IPO Says About Alibaba

The Amazon of China showed investors' appetite for Chinese e-commerce companies remains in tact. That's good news for Alibaba's pending IPO.

A Chinese e-commerce giant just went public, though it wasn’t the one you were probably anticipating. Still, it’s worth paying attention to. JD.COM INC ADS EA REPR 2 COM 'A' SHS JD 2.3833% , known as the of China, debuted on the NASDAQ Thursday and performed slightly better than expected (the shares were up around 6% in their first two trading days). The news gives renewed hope for those waiting with bated breath for the initial public offering for Alibaba, expected later in the summer. is a pretty big deal — the company is valued at more than $25 billion. But Alibaba will be much, much bigger. Some analysts believe the Street will value the company at around $170 billion, making it larger in market cap than Amazon AMAZON.COM INC. AMZN 0.194% or Facebook FACEBOOK INC. FB -0.6375% . Brendan Ahern, managing director of KraneShares, said this would make Alibaba instantly “bigger than 95% of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index,” he noted. In fact, he added, “Alibaba will be the most valuable internet company after Google GOOGLE INC. GOOG -0.4038% , which has a market cap of about $347 billion.”

Despite’s smaller scale, there are plenty of things you can glean from the company’s debut to help you set your expectations for Alibaba. Here are three:

1) Both Chinese stocks and U.S. tech shares have been slumping, but investors still can’t resist China+Internet.
As the chart below shows, investors have lost their appetite for Chinese stocks in general this year — as seen below by the drop in the Markets Vector China ETF; MARKET VECTORS ETF CHINAAMC A-SHS ETF PEK -0.2334% . That’s owing to fears over the health of the slowing Chinese economy, which now faces threats to its financial and real estate sectors. Meanwhile, a drop in risk-taking among investors has also pushed the value of tech shares lower in recent months. Take a look at the losses suffered by PowerShares NASDAQ Internet ETF; POWERSHARES ETF - NASDAQ INTERNET PORTFOLIO PNQI -0.4404% .

PEK Chart

PEK data by YCharts

However, the bulls are giving Chinese Internet companies — especially Chinese e-commerce firms — a bit more slack, as evidenced by the performance of KraneShares CSI China Internet ETF KRANESHARES TR CSI CHINA INTERNET ETF KWEB -0.4955% :

KWEB Chart

KWEB data by YCharts

2) Even though the IPO market is sluggish, there’s still demand for Chinese IPOs.
In recent months, several IPOs priced below expectations, causing some companies to shelve their plans to go public until the mood of the market improved. And yes, Weibo, the so-called Twitter of China, was one of those disappointing debuts.

However, the IPO shows that this isn’t necessarily a widespread problem. So does the eye-popping performance of Chinese e-commerce debuts lately. Look at the stunning run for Vipshop Holdings VIPSHOP HLDGS LTD SPON ADR EA REPR 2 ORD SHS VIPS 0.0417% , a leading Chinese flash sales site, since it went public in March 2012:

VIPS Chart

VIPS data by YCharts

3) For Chinese e-commerce companies, it’s still all about potential.
U.S. e-commerce plays don’t have it so easy. Amazon, which has spent recent years bolstering sales at the expense of profits, got knocked around in April after it announced somewhat disappointing first quarter results.

On the other hand, the market was happy to overlook the fact that is profitless because of its stunning revenue growth. The company’s sales grew 68% last year after surging 98% in 2012. This is particularly true given the potential for the market that JD and also Alibaba are playing in.

Morningstar’s consumer equity strategist R.J. Hottovy notes that “you’ve seen tremendous amount of wage-rate growth among that lower- to middle-income consumer” in China that Alibaba and JD are wooing. “The expectation is that we’ll continue to see more disposable income devoted to online purchases within that market,” he said.

TIME Companies

GoPro’s Next Crazy Stunt: Going Public

The GoPro Hero 3 with intergrated WiFi is displayed at the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 9, 2013 in Las Vegas.
The GoPro Hero 3 with intergrated WiFi is displayed at the 2013 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 9, 2013 in Las Vegas. David Becker—Getty Images

The head cam maker revealed in its S-1 filing Monday that it had over $1 billion in revenue last year and raked in $60 million in profits. It hopes to raise $100 million through its public offering and will trade as GPRO on Nasdaq

Action camera company GoPro is getting ready to go public. The wearable camera manufacturer, whose incredibly resilient devices are often used to film extreme sports, is seeking to raise $100 million in an initial public offering in the United States, the company revealed today.

Founded in 2004 with a wrist-mounted, waterproof camera used for surfing, GoPro is now the biggest camera brand in the world. The company sold 3.8 million HD cameras in 2013 alone and generated nearly $1 billion in revenue (up from $526 million in 2012 and $234 million in 2011). The company’s profits have increased steadily in recent years, rising from $25 million in 2011 to $60 million in 2013.

Because the company operates in such a narrow market, it’s not clear how much more it can grow just hawking durable cameras. Revenue growth in 2013 was slower than it was in 2012. GoPro is attempting to increase the strength of its brand by making it easier to share footage shot with its cameras. The downloadable software GoPro studio allows users to easily edit photos and videos, then share them online. A GoPro mobile app provides similar functionality. Between them they’ve helped make GoPro a ubiquitous force in the world of online video—clips with “GoPro” in the title racked up more than 1 billion views in the first quarter of 2014.

GoPro will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol GPRO.

TIME Companies

Meet the Visionary Behind the World’s Largest IPO

Tenth Anniversary of Alibaba Group Founding
HANGZHOU, CHINA - Alibaba Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ma Yun dressed as a punk rocker performs during the 10th anniversary celebration of Alibaba Group founding at Huanglong Sports Center on September 10, 2009 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images) ChinaFotoPress—Getty Images

Alibaba founder Jack Ma doesn't know how to code and likes to sing love ballads while wearing blond wigs, but he's also a ruthless businessman that is more than willing to crush his competitors

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will play host to one of the largest public offerings ever in the coming weeks. But the company, now the largest online retailer in the world, sprung from an unlikely source—a former English teacher with no significant background in technology. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s executive chairman and lead founder, brings an outsider’s perspective to the often insular world of tech. Here are five things to know about China’s version of Steve Jobs:

He’s not a hacker

Many tech CEOs, from Steve Jobs to Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg, are lifelong computer geeks who dreamed up their disruptive companies in dorm rooms or parents’ garages. Ma is different (though Alibaba did start in his Hangzhou apartment). He flunked his college entrance exam twice and didn’t begin using the Internet until 1995. Ma has said he has never written a single line of code for Alibaba.

He’s not Alibaba’s CEO, but he’s running the show

Ma owns 8.9 percent of Alibaba, making him the largest individual shareholder in the company (tech firms Yahoo and Softbank both own more). Beyond that stake, though, he has an outsized influence on the company due to its unusual governance structure. A group of 28 partners, including Ma, get to select a majority of Alibaba’s board of directors. Yahoo and Softbank, which select some of the other board members, have ceded control of most of their votes to Ma and his early partner Joe Tsai. Even though Ma is no longer the CEO of the company, he handpicked his successor, Jonathan Lu. In essence, it will take a lot more effort to remove Ma from power than was needed to give Steve Jobs the boot from Apple in the 1980s.

He wants to control more than retail

Alibaba’s three largest retail marketplaces account for more than 80 percent of its revenues, but the company is rapidly expanding into other businesses. The company also runs a cloud computing service and launched a PayPal-like service for digital transactions several years ago (that business, called Alipay, is now a separate company that is not part of the IPO). Alibaba has also invested in a wide range of other companies, including the social network Weibo, the YouTube-like Youku Tudou, and the messaging app Tango.

He’s an eccentric

Jack Ma is hardly a buttoned-up executive. He has sung “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” while wearing a blond wig, a black leather jacket and lipstick. He has compared himself to the movie character ET. He likes to refer to himself in the third person. He held a three-hour performance/party to commemorate stepping down from his CEO role last year. Basically, he’s a big deal and he knows it.

He’s up for a good fight

Ma is a huge martial arts buff, so much so that he started a Tai Chi school with Jet Li. But he also has a fighting stance when it comes to his company. When eBay tried to invade China in the early 2000’s, Ma launched a competing service, TaoBao Marketplace, that offered free listings. The much larger eBay was forced to retreat from the country, and today Alibaba dwarfs eBay in both profits and gross volume sales. If Ma and his company decide to turn their attention to U.S. customers as well as U.S. investors, Alibaba could be a threat to e-commerce giants such as eBay and Amazon.

TIME stocks

Market Meltdown: Tech Stock Slaughter Continues

New York Stock Exchange Opens After Friday Declines
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on May 5, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

As some of the most high-flying technology stocks continue their dramatic declines, one Wall Street analyst calls it a "reality check" for investors

It’s a bloodbath.

Technology stocks continued their stomach-churning free fall Wednesday, wiping out billions of dollars in shareholder value as investors shunned one-time market darlings.

The selloff affected old-school Internet stalwarts like AOL as well as newly public firms such as Twitter, reflecting investors’ growing disillusionment with so-called growth companies particularly in the Internet sector.

After a remarkable five-year run in which the tech-heavy Nasdaq index rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession to soar 135%, fueling high-flying IPOs from the likes of Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, many tech investors have hit pause.

The biggest victims of Wednesday’s carnage were network security firm FireEye (down 24%), AOL (down 21%), Groupon (down 21%), and Candy Crush maker King Digital (down 13%).

“We’ve seen dramatic declines, and for some of these names it’s reasonable to call what’s happened a crash,” says Scott Kessler, ‎Head of Technology Sector Equity Research at S&P Capital IQ. “It’s painful for investors, but the market had a banner year last year, the fourth year of a bull market, so it makes sense for there to be a pullback.”

Twitter, which tumbled 18% Tuesday as early investors were allowed to sell shares for the first time, continued its plunge, declining nearly 4% on Wednesday. Twitter, which went public last November, has shed more than 50% of its value since the beginning of the year.

“This is a reality check where people are saying we’re in a speculative bubble around a few discrete stocks that is bursting or should burst,” says Kessler. “For some of these companies, the valuations are becoming harder to rationalize or even understand.”

Yahoo, the purple-hued Internet pioneer, declined by an ominous 6.66% on Wednesday, and is down nearly 8% so far this year. Online video game company Zynga fell 4% on Wednesday. Facebook was down 2%, Amazon was off by 1.57%, and the list goes on.

Kessler points out that the meltdown is affecting specific slices of the technology market, particularly “high-multiple, high-visibility” Internet and social media companies. “The key consideration is how folks are defining technology,” he says. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index, bolstered by still-thriving companies like Apple (up more than 7% this year), is only down 1.5% in 2014, which belies the dramatic declines experienced by several high-profile Internet names.

The sense of gloom and doom among Internet stocks could put a damper on the IPO market, which was booming earlier this year. U.S. technology IPOs increased by 100% in deal volume in the first quarter of 2014 compared to one year earlier, with 12 deals comprising $1.6 billion, according to a new study from consulting giant PwC.

“King Digital came public and the stock didn’t do well, so people are starting to wonder if too many companies are coming public too quickly at too high valuations,” says Kessler.

A cooling IPO market could put the brakes on two of the most anticipated IPOs of the year, cloud computing upstart Box and digital payments company Square, led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey. But Kessler doesn’t think the tech weakness will affect the Big Kahuna IPO of the year, Alibaba, which just announced plans to go public, “unless market conditions continue to deteriorate materially.”

It’s difficult to predict how long the selloff will continue, and investors would be wise to avoid trying to time the bottom of the market, which is a perilous game. But one thing seems certain: The sky-high valuations enjoyed by many tech stocks over the last few years may not return for some time.

“It’s somewhat reminiscent of what we saw 15 years ago,” says Kessler. “A lot of these consumer stocks are household names and are constantly talked about by investment and media types, so there’s a tremendous amount of attention on them. But I repeatedly tell people that just because these companies are impressive and interesting does not mean they’re safe and sound investments.”

TIME alibaba

Alibaba’s Massive U.S. IPO Could Top Facebook’s Debut

Alibaba founder Ma gestures during celebration of 10th anniversary of Taobao Marketplace, China's largest consumer-focused e-commerce website, in Hangzhou
Alibaba founder Jack Ma gestures during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Taobao Marketplace, China's largest consumer-focused e-commerce website, in Hangzhou, May 10, 2013. China Daily/Reuters

Last year, the Chinese e-commerce business that is part-owned by Yahoo handled $248 billion in transactions, more than Amazon and eBay combined. The company's IPO could be the largest in tech history

Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba has filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission to go public in the U.S., setting the stage for what could become the largest technology stock offering in history.

If successful, Alibaba’s IPO could eventually value the company at substantially more than $150 billion, according to Wall Street analysts, in what would amount to a windfall for Yahoo, which owns 22.6% of the e-commerce giant. Alibaba’s public debut would be the largest ever by a Chinese company in the U.S. public markets.

Alibaba, which was founded 15 years ago by English teacher-turned-entrepreneur Jack Ma, dominates the Chinese e-commerce market, powering four-fifths of all online commerce in that country, according to Reuters. Along with its flagship Taobao website, the company also operates a digital payments service and a cloud computing business.

In its filing with the SEC, Alibaba said it aims to raise $1 billion, but that figure is a placeholder amount used to calculate registration fees. Wall Street analysts believe Alibaba could eventually top Facebook’s 2012 $16 billion IPO, which set a record as the largest technology stock offering in history. Alibaba has yet to decide whether to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq.

Alibaba aims to sell a 12% stake to the public, according to Bloomberg, which could generate as much as $20 billion in new capital for the company. In the coming months, Alibaba will embark on a “road show” designed to woo Wall Street investors. Demand for a piece of the IPO is expected to be intense because Western investors are eager to gain exposure to China’s massive and fast-growing e-commerce market.

Alibaba could eventually have a market valuation of between $150 billion and $200 billion, according to Jeffries technology analyst Brian Pitz, who estimates that Alibaba accounts for about 75% of Yahoo’s valuation, along with other Asian assets and cash holdings.

Yahoo owns 22.6% percent of Alibaba, and is expected to sell a 9% stake, which could generate more than $10 billion for the purple-hued Silicon Valley pioneer depending on the final price of the IPO.

At $200 billion, Alibaba would be worth more than U.S. tech titans Facebook and Amazon, but it would still trail Apple and Google, the world’s two most valuable technology companies. Last year, Alibaba handled $248 billion in online transactions, according to the company’s IPO filing, more than Amazon and eBay combined.

Alibaba’s meteoric growth has been powered by economic and demographic trends in China, including the ongoing emergence of a large, tech-savvy middle class. In its IPO filing, Alibaba cited China’s population of 1.35 billion people, including 618 million Internet users. The company said there are 500 million mobile Internet users and 302 million Internet shoppers in China.

Alibaba said its logistics partners delivered 5 billion packages last year, substantially more than UPS, which delivered 4.3 billion packages globally.

“There is less of a retail culture in China, ie. ‘Let’s go shopping on Sunday,'” Paul Sweeney of Bloomberg Industries told PBS Newshour. “They don’t necessarily have that as much, and as a result, e-commerce has actually grown much faster in China than it has in a lot of the Western markets.”

“The Alibaba opportunity there is tremendous,” Sweeney added. “U.S. and Western investors recognize that. There are very few ways for Western investors to invest in this growth story. Alibaba will be by far the largest, most liquid, and arguably safest investment vehicle.”

Last month, Yahoo reported tepid results for its core business, but the company’s stock jumped 8% based on Alibaba’s revenue, which soared 66% from the year before. The company’s net income was $1.6 billion, more than double the previous year. Yahoo shares moved 1% higher in after-hours trading on Tuesday, following Alibaba’s IPO filing.

“The bottom line is that Yahoo’s stock continues to be driven by Alibaba results,” Macquarie tech analyst Ben Schachter wrote in a recent note to clients. “With its reaccelerating revenue growth and high margins, Yahoo will continue to reap the rewards of its Alibaba holdings.”

Investment banking giants Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Citi are listed as underwriters for Alibaba’s stock offering.

TIME technology

Everything You Need to Know About the Chinese Version of Twitter

WANG ZHAO—AFP/Getty Images

The first of China’s big 2014 IPOs arrives on U.S. shores Thursday. Weibo, a Chinese social network that allows people to post real-time messages of up to 140 Chinese characters, will list on the Nasdaq with shares priced at $17. The company will be valued at $3.46 billion and raise around $285 million in the offering, figures at the low end of the company’s IPO pricing range and far below analyst expectations earlier this year. The performance of the Beijing-based startup could portend the trajectory of both Chinese stocks and the overall tech sector, which has seen a precipitous decline on Wall Street in the past month.

Weibo is a subsidiary of the Chinese Internet company Sina and is partially owned by the e-commerce giant Alibaba. Like Twitter, the website has become a digital water cooler where both ordinary people and celebrities gather to discuss events. It’s become a key resource for following news events in China, like the crash of an Asiana Airlines flight in San Francisco in July and the trial of former Chinese politician Xilai Bo in August. Weibo boasts 144 million monthly active users, making it more than half the size of Twitter.

Though initial reports indicated that Weibo would ride the coattails of Twitter’s successful November IPO to a valuation of as much as $7 billion, a confluence of factors have thrown some cold water on the company’s stock. The tech sector in general is has been on a slide for the last several weeks as investors abandon so-called momentum stocks, including Weibo’s parent company Sina. The first Chinese business to go public this year, an IT training firm called Tarena, has seen its share price drop more than 20 percent from its IPO price.

Weibo also faces its own, very specific set of challenges. The social network is heavily censored both by the Chinese government and the company itself to remove content that attempts to mobilize people toward political action. Such censorship could reduce user activity in the future. It also puts Weibo at a disadvantage against Tencent’s WeChat, a messaging service for smaller groups of people that allows people to more easily communicate away from the government’s prying eyes (though WeChat was hit with its own round of censorship last month). Weibo has also racked up more than $250 million in losses over the last three years, though it finally turned a small profit in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Still, it’s possible that with expectations now lowered, Weibo will shine. Investors have a keen interest in companies that target China’s quickly growing Internet population, which is expected to reach 800 million by 2015. The company is also linked to Alibaba, which is prepping a heavily anticipated IPO that could be be the largest for an Internet company since Facebook. Weibo will be a bellwether of the market’s appetite for both Chinese startups and tech stocks as a whole.


Online Matchmaker Zoosk Files $100M IPO

While it has yet to log a profit, the popular dating site boasts 26 million members and a top iTunes App. It filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday announcing a planned $100 million initial public offering

The online dating website Zoosk filed papers with the Securities and Exchange Commission Wednesday announcing a planned $100 million initial public offering.

The San Francisco startup was founded in 2007 and began as a website but has been particularly successful as a mobile app, grabbing the number one grossing dating app spot in the Apple app store. The 26-million member service, with users spread across 80 countries, saw revenues of $178 million last year for a net loss of $2.6 million in 2013, Techcrunch reports. In 2012, the site posted a significantly higher net loss of $20.7 million and revenues of just $109 million.

While Zoosk’s earnings have yet to hit positive territory, the service has been gaining users at a rapid pace. According to its IPO filing, by the end of 2013 Zoosk had a total of 26 million members and 650,000 paying subscribers — up 44% and 35%, respectively from 2012.

Bookrunners for the IPO include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and RBC Capital Markets, according to Techcrunch.


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