Alibaba sells off 11Main US e-commerce site to focus on China

Alibaba has been focusing more on luring U.S. merchants to its China business

An Alibaba sign at the company's offices in Hangzhou, China.

An Alibaba sign at the company's offices in Hangzhou, China.

Alibaba Group has decided to sell off its 11Main e-commerce site in the U.S., as part of its focus on attracting foreign brands to its China business.

OpenSky, a U.S.-based online retail company, will be taking over 11Main. "This joining of forces will help drive sales worldwide," Alibaba said on Tuesday.

As part of the deal, Alibaba has also sold its Auctiva and Vendio properties to OpenSky, in exchange for a minority stake of 37.6 percent in the U.S. company.

11Main, which launched last year, represented an Alibaba foray into the U.S. market. The site was, however, a small operation and offered goods from boutique merchants, rather than competing head-on with Amazon or eBay.

In China, Alibaba dominates the e-commerce market through its Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace sites. Many expected the company to expand globally, following its massive IPO in the U.S.

But lately, the company has been talking more about its China business, and its plans to lure U.S. brands to sell over its e-commerce platforms in the country. Earlier this month, its founder Jack Ma urged U.S. small businesses to partner with Alibaba as a way to reach millions of Chinese consumers.

"People say, 'well, when are you going to come to invade America?''" Ma said in a speech in New York. "We do not come here to compete. We come here to bring the small businesses," he added.

OpenSky did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company also focuses on selling goods from smaller merchants, similar to 11Main's business model. OpenSky launched in 2011, and now has over 50,000 businesses signed on.

Although Alibaba is parting ways with 11Main, it has been active in investing in U.S. tech companies, including SnapChat. After the 11Main sale, Alibaba will still have has its AliExpress business, an English language site designed to sell Chinese goods to customers across the world.

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Tags Mergers and acquisitionsinternetbusiness issuese-commerceAlibaba Group

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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