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.
The deal sees Plug and Play welcome its first partner from China. Earlier this year the Sunnyvale-based company announced a major expansion to launch nine new cohorts that cover verticals including fintech, food and beverage, IOT and mobility. Unlike its peers in the U.S., such as Y Combinator, Plug and Play has expanded overseas and its global presence includes locations as diverse as Brazil, Germany, Russia, Singapore, Spain and Canada.
“Partnering with JD.com, one of China’s premier technology players, will give startups access to both tremendous innovation resources, as well as a huge helping hand as they look to reach the Chinese market,” added Plug and Play CEO and founder Saeed Amidi.