Traders work on the floor of the the New York Stock Exchange as Alibaba's stock begins trading.
Photograph by Scott Eells — Bloomberg/Getty Images
By Laura Lorenzetti
September 19, 2014

Alibaba is starting to trade today, and the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is positively buzzing with excitement.

Mark Otto, a trader with J. Streicher, says the event has brought the most excitement to the Exchange that he’s ever seen.

“I’ve been down here 20 years and never seen anything like this,” he said, adding that the hype was even greater than last years much anticipated Twitter (TWTR) IPO.

There’s even a small betting pool developing among traders about what time the shares will officially hit the market. Peter P. Costa, president of Empire Executions, thinks it will go at 11:17 a.m. ET, but he’s a bit of an outlier, with the consensus putting the release at 11 a.m. ET exactly.

There’s also significant debate going on about what the stock will open at in terms of price. Otto is on the high side, guessing the opening price will be above $90. Costa is a bit more cautious, guessing at somewhere between $85 and $95, while Otto said most of the traders he’s talked to are thinking it will go for between $75 and $85.

Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma, meanwhile, is being treated like a movie star at his big premiere. Even CNBC journalist Kayla Tausche got in on the fun, taking a selfie with Ma in the background:

The news media aren’t the only ones excited to catch a glimpse of the billionaire founder. A scrum of onlookers waited outside the NYSE for the chance to see Ma.

There were also reports of some traders ditching their traditional suit and tie for hoodies in Alibaba’s trademark orange. (Maybe Zuckerberg really did leave a mark on Wall Street.)

Overall, the excitement was high this morning at the exchange as the bidding process kicked off at a range of $80 to $83, slowly inching its way up as bookrunner Goldman Sachs coordinated the buys and sells. The auction finally landed at Alibaba’s opening price of $92.70 to loud cheers on the floor. The stock jumped to over $98 a share within minutes, pushing Alibaba’s market value to over $240 billion–bigger than Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) or Amazon (AMZN).

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