Wednesday 7 December 2016

E-commerce giant Alibaba to take space in US where CEO first saw the internet

Hui Yong-Yu

Published 05/07/2015 | 02:30

Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma
Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma
Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma
Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma

Alibaba is in talks to rent more office space in the Seattle area, where founder Jack Ma first encountered the Internet while visiting the city two decades ago.

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The Hangzhou, China-based e-commerce company is considering a sublease for almost 20,000 sq ft in City Centre Bellevue, a 27-storey office tower east of Seattle. The space could house about 100 employees. Alibaba last year began renting space in the landmark Decatur Building in downtown Seattle, where its lease expires soon.

An Alibaba spokesman, declined to comment on leasing matters. Monica Jones, a spokeswoman for City Center's owner, American Assets Trust Inc., didn't return a call for comment.

The Seattle area, home to Microsoft and Amazon.com, is attracting a growing number of technology companies because of its programming talent pool and lower cost of living compared with the San Francisco Bay area.

Facebook earlier this year agreed to lease almost all of a new building called Dexter Station in Seattle's South Lake Union neighbourhood, home to Amazon. Google has a satellite campus in Kirkland, north of Bellevue. The Puget Sound Business Journal reported in March that Alibaba is considering Seattle for its US HQ.

Alibaba, which has made San Mateo, California, its head office in the US, doesn't plan a large-scale expansion in Seattle, a spokesman said. The Seattle operation is small and focused on data science and technology, he said. The Seattle office has about 25 employees.

The San Mateo office has about 80 employees, mainly in business development, marketing, human resources and engineering. The company also has an office in San Francisco that has about 25 people in international corporate affairs, investor relations and investments.

Alibaba's strategy in the US is focused on helping American businesses access China. Ma, in a June 8 commentary in the Wall Street Journal, said he discovered the Internet while on a trip to Seattle and learned to speak English from American tourists in China.

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