JD.com Inc., formerly 360Buy Jingdong Inc., will begin trading on the NASDAQ today — Unsurprisingly it goes public ahead of Alibaba Group. The IPO price is set at $19 per ADS and the company will raise $1.78 billion in the offering.
Chinese tech giant Tencent gained a 15% stake in JD.com through a deal the two companies announced earlier this year. Tencent will buy 5% more of JD at IPO price thus it will be the second largest shareholder in the company, only after JD founder Richard Liu.
Now JD.com owns the business-to-customer and customer-to-customer marketplaces that failed to gain traction when under Tencent, and a minority stake in Yixun, the online retailer Tencent invested in. JD has the right to fully acquire Yixun later.
A vice president at JD reportedly published a Weibo post saying the dedicated channel — referred to as “prominent level 1 access points” on WeChat (or Weixin), the most popular mobile messaging app in China, and Mobile QQ, Tencent’s flagship brand, would go live in several days (report in Chinese). Although he deleted that post later due to unknown reasons, but it is expected it will happen sooner or later. With that, WeChat users will be able to purchase goods from JD directly including make payments.
According to its updated filing with the SEC, JD reported RMB21.7 billion ($3.5bn) in online sales, a 63.5% increase, for Q1 2014.
Different from Alibaba, JD started from direct sales, which has been with a thin profit margin. Liu said at an event in the past March this year that JD decided to introduce third-party retailers onto its platform in 2010 after the company failed making profits from selling clothes on their own.
Whilst Alibaba has been making good profits from third-party retailers on its marketplaces, Taobao and Tmall, through retailer-facing services, such as search marketing, display ads, display network Alimama (not included in the Alibaba business that will go public soon), among others.
At the above-mentioned event, Liu said ten years later 70% of JD’s profits would be generated from financial services. Like Alibaba, JD rolled out small loans to retailers on its platform.