????投資者為這一前景興奮不已是可以理解的，但更為重要的一點是，該公司將來或許能借入更多資金用于收購，阿里巴巴有望攜500億美元在并購市場發起閃電戰。據彭博社（Bloomberg）稱，該公司IPO后的收購名單可能包括即時通訊公司Snapchat和Kik、電影和電視制作公司獅門娛樂（Lions Gate Entertainment）、互聯網電視提供商Roku、云計算公司Rackspace和Akamai，甚至雅虎（Yahoo）。
????China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba is slated to become the newest entrant to the IPO club with an expected valuation of 24 times future earnings in the public markets, which would net it almost $24 billion in cash and make it one of the largest technology companies in the world.
????Investors are understandably excited about this prospect, but more to the point, the company will likely be able to borrow even more money for acquisitions, resulting in a$50 billion war chest that Alibaba intends to use to make rapid-fire acquisitions. According to Bloomberg, the company’s post-IPO shopping list could include messaging companies Snapchat and Kik, movie and television studio Lions Gate Entertainment LGF -0.89% , Internet TV provider Roku, cloud computing companies Rackspace RAX 0.87% and Akamai AKAM 1.32% , and even Yahoo YHOO 0.38%
????What all this points to is that Alibaba has the ambition beyond its core business of e-commerce to become a technology conglomerate along the lines of a Google GOOG 1.20% or Facebook FB 2.01% , which have acquired many companies over the past few years in areas as diverse as robotics, thermostats and smoke alarms, fitness tracking, education, hardware, biotech, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.
????Alibaba is already making acquisitions in China and investments abroad, including in car-service app provider Lyft and online retailer Shoprunner, stating in itsprospectus that “We have made, and intend to continue to make, strategic investments and acquisitions to expand our user base, enhance our cloud computing business, add complementary products and technologies and further strengthen our ecosystem.”
????The conglomerate model was wildly popular during the 1970s and 1980s but eventually fell out of favor as companies found it difficult to integrate and manage different lines of business. In the dynamics are different, and that is why Alibaba has a shot at success –with some caveats.
????On the plus side, the tech arena has the potential for integration and crossover applications naturally built in. For example, Lions Gate could make exclusive content for Alibaba, which the company could then deliver over the content-delivery network of Akamai and provide to consumers over Roku. Moreover, Alibaba could integrate e-commerce interactivity with content to enable viewers to buy products while watching a show, and to create a dialogue with other viewers about the show via Snapchat. This type of self-contained universe can provide tremendous value to consumers, and by extension, tremendous profits to Alibaba.
????The challenge here is in the complexity and cost of integrating all this in a seamless way, both on the technological as well as corporate side. Conglomerates are big entities and can become unwieldy and difficult to manage from a business perspective. How should the pricing of services between divisions of a conglomerate be determined? Would it be more profitable to provide those services to outside parties at arms length instead? And how would that impact the competitiveness of the parent company? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed.