China’s JD partners with accelerator program Plug and Play to reach US startups

E-commerce giant JD.com, the closest rival to Alibaba in China, is broadening its presence in Silicon Valley after it announced a collaboration with accelerator firm Plug and Play to seek out and work with promising U.S. startups.

The e-commerce giant said it will share technologies, including AI, cloud and smart supply chain tech, with the program generally and work together to launch a new cohort that taps into its extensive presence in China.

The new JD-backed program will be open to startups that cover “a range of areas and industries,” with a particular interest in those that operate in common areas such as robotics, AI, AR/VR and the cloud. Plug and Play will control the selection, with JD on hand to offer expertise, mentorship, technology and more. There will also be opportunities to tap into its network and sell products directly to Chinese consumers via its services, which processed a total of 658.2 billion RMB — or around $100 billion — in GMV during 2016.

JD listed on the Nasdaq in 2014 and today its market cap currently stands at $53 billion. The company opened its first Silicon Valley office in 2015 which is focused on R&D. This year, JD has increased its investment focus outside of China considerably, particularly in Southeast Asia where it has backed Go-Jek, Pomelo and Traveloka, and it is also keeping an eye on the early-stage scene in the U.S..

“JD believes that innovation should not only benefit new businesses, but also support traditional industries compete in today’s environment, and we look forward to identifying and partnering with like-minded startups in the US. Partnering with Plug and Play, we hope to unlock the potential of the next generation of companies, and help them succeed both in the US and China,” JD’s chief strategy office Dr. Jianwen Liao told TechCrunch in a statement.

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