Alibaba just poured $50 million into a Google for apps

October 4, 2013
Obsession
How We Buy
October 4, 2013

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba isn’t just looking to the US as a potential home for its much-anticipated IPO. It’s also looking to the country as a fountain of innovation that can boost its growing business in China and around the world. The company, often described as Asia’s answer to Ebay or Amazon, has led a late round of financing for Quixey, a US-based search engine for apps on mobile devices.

The investment adds to the company’s efforts to bolster is mobile platforms ahead of its much-vaunted IPO expected to value the business at more than $75 billion. Last week, Alibaba walked away from talks with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange about its flotation when the bourse would not agree to loosen its corporate governance standards. In a blow for Hong Kong’s aspirations as a global financial center, the company is now expected to list in New York. The company has also invested in US sports retailer Fanatics and e-commerce platform ShopRunner in the walkup to its public offering.

Quixey’s technology allows users to search for apps based on what they want to do or buy, without knowing its name or who it was developed by. Smartphone adoption in China, Alibaba’s main market, is surging. And Alibaba is trying to avoid the mistakes of Facebook, which was beset by concerns about its mobile platform after it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange last year.

“Innovation is at the heart of Alibaba’s culture, so backing entrepreneurs who are developing forward-thinking technology is what we love to do,” Alibaba’s vice chairman and founder Joe Tsai said in a statement released by Quixey.

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