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Alibaba launches U.S. marketplace, extends deal flurry

Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Founder Jack Ma As Company Files for U.S. Initial Public Offering of E-Commerce GiantAlibaba Group Holdings Ltd. and Founder Jack Ma As Company Files for U.S. Initial Public Offering of E-Commerce Giant
Alibaba headquarters in ChinaPhoto by Nelson Ching/Bloomberg—Getty Images

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Holding Group is taking on eBay Inc (EBAY) and Amazon.com Inc(AMZN) in their own home market, launching its own new marketplace called 11 Main.

The new platform, which will raise Alibaba’s profile in the US ahead of its blockbuster IPO planned for later this summer, will focus on a limited number of categories to start with, such as fashion, home and collectible items, the Financial Times reported.

It will aim to attract business from smaller merchants in particular by asking lower commissions than other, existing sites, the Wall Street Journal quoted 11 Main President Mike Effle as saying in an interview.

The platform has been developed by Vendio and Auctiva, two mainly B2B platforms that Alibaba bought in 2010, with a view to growing what it called a B2B2C franchise.

Separately, Alibaba continued its recent buying spree, saying it would buy the remaining 33% of UCWeb Inc. that it doesn’t already own. UCWeb is the largest mobile browser company in China, with more than 500 million quarterly active users and a domestic market share of just under 66% as of February, according to Beijing-based research company iResearch.

Alibaba said it would use a combination of shares and cash to pay for the deal, but declined to give any more details about its valuation.

The deal comes only a week after the company said it would buy a 50% stake in Chinese soccer club Guangzhou Evergrande for $190 million from a real estate developer. That deal has raised concerns with investors about Alibaba’s corporate focus ahead of the IPO, which is likely to value it at over $100 billion.