Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, is busy preparing ground for its grand entry into India’s online marketplace. The Jack Ma-controlled internet behemoth has held talks to acquire online marketplace ShopClues, one of the few unicorn startups commanding a billion dollar valuation and according to the media reports, Alibaba’s Indian operations are likely to be headquartered in Bengaluru.
Alibaba already has a stake in Paytm and now wants to merge it with its bigger rival ShopClues.
ShopClues is positioned as an online flea market, selling cheaper and mostly unbranded merchandise to value shoppers. The company, which is one among the top takeover targets in Indian e-commerce, is said to be reporting a revenue run-rate of $750 million based on the gross merchandise value of the goods sold.
The Jack Ma-led Chinese giant is looking to sew up consolidation moves to challenge Amazon, which has already emerged as the country’s second-largest online marketplace and is seen threatening Flipkart’s leadership.
Former Zynga and Yahoo executive K Guru Gowrappan, who has been mandated to chart Alibaba’s growth in Asian markets (excluding China), is driving the M&A talks with the senior management of ShopClues. Gowrappan, who joined Alibaba in November last year, is spending more time in India to finalize Alibaba’s entry strategy. Sources said he was about to join the board of One 97 Communications, the parent of Paytm, and is working from the latter’s offices in Noida.
According to a ET Retail report: Bengaluru is also the base for American rival Amazon and local leader Flipkart. Alibaba is scouting for 20,000 sqft of corporate office space in the country’s technology capital to launch operations by end of the current calendar or early next year. The initial office space requirement is for 150-200 people, with options to take up more later.
Recently, Rakuten, an ecommerce company -often referred to as Japan’s Alibaba -also opened an office in Bengaluru as part of its India entry plan.