Earlier this year, business insiders began to speculate about Alibaba’s probable plan to set up shop in the United States. Alibaba is considered to be the “Amazon” of China; it’s a massively profitable e-commerce company led by Jack Ma.
Despite the exit of prominent shareholder Third Point, an asset management firm run by Dan Loeb, at the end of the first quarter, as well as other reports of plunging shares, Alibaba continues to be considered the most successful e-commerce company in the world. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Alibaba is the most popular destination for online shopping in the world’s fastest growing e-commerce market. Transactions on its online sites totaled $248 billion last year, more than those of eBay and Amazon combined.”
Interestingly, Amazon is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, which is where it’s conjectured that Alibaba will open its own United States headquarters. Earlier this month, it was announced that Alibaba took a significant stake in Seattle-based online retailer Zulily, which further supports speculations about the company’s interest in dabbling in the United States. Although Alibaba insists that it already held millions of Zulily shares prior to the May purchase, reports claim that “it snapped up millions more over the past few days, just after Zulily’s stock dropped following a disappointing quarterly report,” according to Ben Fox Rubin of CNET.
In 2014, Alibaba did open an office in Seattle, which some consider to be a kind of test to see if the US city would be a viable location for the e-commerce giant’s North American headquarters. “I’ve heard through multiple sources that Alibaba is likely setting up its USA headquarters in Seattle,” says Jamie Boyd, a managing director of Cascadia Capital, Seattle’s largest investment bank. Boyd calls this an “interesting move,” considering the fact that Seattle is already home to Alibaba’s biggest western competitor, Amazon.
A tech hub in its own right, Seattle would be a good home to Alibaba if the company does decide to establish a US headquarters.