At the Wall Street box office, Alibaba is a blockbuster

Contact: Brenon Daly

In Hollywood, a blockbuster debut that is expected to help support the release of other films around the same time is known as a ‘tentpole.’ And while that phenomenon may have also played out in the IPO business in the past, no one is expecting the Alibaba debut later this week to help prop up other offerings. Quite the opposite, in fact.

To understand why, think of Alibaba as Godzilla (the monster, not the movie). The Chinese e-commerce giant is looking to come to market – backed by no fewer than 20 investment banks – and create almost a Facebook-size valuation overnight. The sheer size of Alibaba’s record-setting offering of some 320 million shares at (currently) $68 each basically pushes other IPO candidates outside the awning of any Alibaba tentpole.

With Alibaba and its underwriters looking to place billions of dollars of equity, buyers are unlikely to step right back in to buy smaller-ticket tech IPOs. That means solid offerings that are in process, such as Cyber-Ark and HubSpot, may initially open a bit soft at the box office that is Wall Street.

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