After holding the largest IPO ever, giant Chinese online retailer Alibaba is looking to the startup nation for the technology to carry it forward. Sources inform "Globes" that Alibaba representatives visited Israel earlier this week, and met with a number of e-commerce, Internet, and mobile startups.
Representatives of the company, which held an IPO in September 2014 at a company value of $168 billion, and whose share is currently traded at a $275 billion market cap, were guests of startup Visualead, which operates in the Chinese market, and is developing a Quick Response (QR) code. Alibaba representatives met with a number of Israeli startups. It is unclear whether the purpose of the meetings was to consider a future investment, or strategic cooperation with local companies.
The Alibaba delegation also met with Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett. During the meeting, he presented the local high-tech market to them. "Expanding commercial ties with China is a strategic goal for the Ministry of the Economy and for Israel. The Chinese market is a huge and rapidly growing market, and over the past year, we took many steps to make it easier for Israeli companies like Visualead to enter the Chinese market," Bennett said. "I'm sure that Alibaba will find interesting investment opportunities in Israel, and that we will see many more cases of cooperation between them and Israeli companies."
Alibaba, one of the hottest Internet companies in the recent past, is garnering headlines throughout the world. Its giant and widely reported IPO put the spotlight on founder Jack Ma, who according to the Wealth-X research company made more money this year than anyone else in the world; his personal wealth jumped 173% to $18.5 billion.
Over the past year, more and more Asian Internet giants are discovering the Israeli startup scene. It began in February this year, when Japanese company Rakuten acquired calls application company Viber for $900 million, and continued with Baidu, the Chinese Google, which made its first investment in Israel, $3 million, in Pixellot, which develops technology for high quality and inexpensive video and television production. Baidu was also one of the investors in Carmel Ventures' recently completed $194 million fourth fund. Baidu co-founder, chairman, and CEO Robin Li met with Bennett last month, among other things in order to promote investments in Israel, such as Baidu's investments in Carmel Ventures and Pixellot.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 18, 2014
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