On Nov. 11, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. set a company record for most sales in a 24-hour period when $5.7 billion was exchanged over its network of websites.
That's nearly four times the $1.46 billion in online sales logged on the United States' largest online shopping day of the year – "Cyber Monday" – in 2012.
The sales came over the company's two main platforms, Taobao and Tmall, during China's "Singles' Day." The holiday is a reverse Valentine's Day, when bachelors and bachelorettes celebrate their "single lives" and, apparently, spend a lot of money.
The $5.7 billion boon represented an 83% jump from the sales of the previous year – and equals almost half of the entire size of China's e-commerce market in the third quarter.
Now this lucrative e-commerce leader is considering an IPO in the United States in 2014 – and it could be the biggest tech IPO ever.
"Alibaba is a one-time thing," Benjamin Joffe, an angel investor and founder of the Beijing consultancy Plus8Star, told CNBC. "How often do you list a $100 billion company?"
Who Is Alibaba?
Founded in 1999, Alibaba offers its users business-to-business web portals, online retail and payment services, and a shopping search engine. Some analysts call it the "Amazon.com of China," but it also mixes in qualities of eBay.
It has grown into an almost $5 billion a year company. Just last quarter the e-commerce company raked in revenue of $1.73 billion – a surge of 60% from the previous quarter.
The reason for its surging sales is the explosive Chinese e-commerce market.
The sheer volume of online transactions occurring in China is staggering.Our Private Briefing serviceEditorWilliam Patalon III wrote earlier this summer that online retail sales in China had grown 60.2% in the first six months of 2013, to $139.6 billion.
"The spectacular growth rate shows the potential for online shopping," Ronald Wan, chief China adviser at Asian Capital Holdings Ltd., told Bloomberg. "This will boost momentum for Alibaba, give its potential investors confidence and prompt traditional retailers to think hard how to cope with challenges from e-commerce."
And now reports indicate that mobile sales are skyrocketing in China as well.