Technology

Inside Ant, the Company Behind the World’s Biggest IPO

What Is Ant and What Is It Worth?

Ant Group Co. ’s initial public offering is poised to break global records for total funds raised. The company became the world’s most valuable startup after a fundraising round in mid-2018 that valued it at $150 billion, and could raise more than $34 billion with its coming listings and earn a valuation well in excess of $300 billion. That would place it among the world’s most valuable technology companies.

Ant is going public at a later growth stage than other technology companies that are now world leaders.

How Did Ant Get Started?

Ant grew out of an online escrow service called Alipay that was created in 2004 within online retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder and then-chief executive later carved out the business. That led to an outcry from Alibaba’s foreign investors, before Mr. Ma created a way Alibaba would continue to profit.

Mr. Ma, who retired from Alibaba last year, is still Ant’s controlling shareholder with slightly more than 50% of its voting rights. Ant’s name reflects the company’s goal of serving individuals and small businesses that have long been ignored by many Chinese financial institutions.

What Is Alipay and How Does It Work?

Ant operates Alipay, a lifestyle and payments app with more than one billion users in mainland China. It now handles more transactions yearly than Mastercard and Visa . The vast majority of Alipay’s transactions take place in China.

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