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When rumors first began swirling last year about an Alibaba IPO, analysts estimated that China's largest e-commerce company could be valued as high as $100 billion.
According to a Reuters poll this month, eight analysts estimated that Alibaba could raise $15 billion through its IPO – at a valuation of $140 billion.
There's a reason why Alibaba's value continues to rise ahead of its IPO.
The e-commerce giant has been busy lately…
Alibaba Acquisitions Raise the Stakes
Last week, Alibaba announced it would be launching a U.S. e-commerce site through its subsidiaries Vendio and Auctiva.
The site, 11main.com, is designed as a "boutique" experience for online shoppers. According to the website, "11 Main is a shopping destination where hand-picked shop owners connect with customers in a stylish and professionally merchandised marketplace."
11 Main adds another dimension to Alibaba's diverse network of websites. One of Alibaba's sites works like Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), another like PayPal, and one is similar to eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY).
Importantly, 11 Main also lends additional brand awareness in the United States, where Alibaba is not yet a household name.
But the American online boutique is just one of Alibaba's recent ventures to ramp up excitement ahead of its IPO.
In the past year, Alibaba has spent more than $2 billion purchasing full and part ownership of more than 10 companies including web browsers, a social media site, a mapmaker, and a logistics company.
Alibaba wants the business to be stronger than ever when it files its initial public offering.
And while Alibaba expands its brand internationally, its financial numbers in China have been undeniable.
The Figures Behind the $140 Billion IPO Valuation
China is currently the world's second largest e-commerce market and was a $210 billion industry in 2012 according to McKinsey & Co. It's estimated that by 2020 that total could reach $420 billion.
As China's largest e-commerce company, Alibaba's network of sites accounts for 50% of the online sales that take place in the country. According to the company's founder Jack Ma, Alibaba is involved with roughly 70% of the country's package deliveries.
In the third quarter of 2013, Alibaba reported revenue of $1.78 billion – an increase of 51% from the previous quarter. That information came from Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO), which owns a 24% stake in the Chinese company. Yahoo announces Alibaba's financial information with a one-quarter lag.
The massive potential for Alibaba was witnessed on Nov. 11, 2013…