Sunday, August 9, 2009

China's Alibaba Plans U.S. Campaign

The e-commerce giant, owned in part by Yahoo and Cisco, will launch a $30 million promotional campaign to attract U.S. business
By W. David Gardner

China's big Internet company, Alibaba, is preparing to aggressively enter English-speaking countries including the U.S. and India, giving its major U.S. investors Yahoo and Cisco (NSDQ: CSCO) a chance to cash in on their investment in the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse.

The initial effort will be an ad campaign to be launched in the U.S. next week, the company said Friday. And, according to media reports, Alibaba is in negotiations to establish a partnership with companies in India to work with small and medium-sized companies.

According to a report in Friday's Wall Street Journal, a $30 million promotional campaign planned for the U.S. will introduce U.S. entrepreneurs and businesspersons to Alibaba's English-language site.

The e-commerce site acts as a combination online catalogue and clearing house for business buyers and sellers. Alibaba Group CEO Jack Ma visited the U.S. earlier this year to talk with Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), eBay (NSDQ: EBAY), Google (NSDQ: GOOG), and other potential partners.

Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) was a major early investor, putting up a reported $1 billion to acquire a major piece of the Chinese firm in 2005. Later, Cisco invested in Alibaba.

Modeling its business approach after trade shows, Alibaba links sellers and buyers as well as wholesalers and suppliers. However, it generally doesn't complete transactions, leaving principals to work out details themselves. Alibaba generates revenue by charging for promotions and for listing products and services.
The e-commerce site's slogan -- "Find It. Make It. Sell It." -- is well known in China and the company wants to introduce the slogan to a broader English language business audience.


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