Alibaba Group Leads $206 Million Investment in ShopRunner

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. led a $206 million investment in retail website ShopRunner, giving the Chinese e-commerce company more of a foothold in the U.S.

Alibaba was joined by American Express Co. in the funding round, according to ShopRunner, which is run by former Yahoo! Inc. Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson. The startup’s backers also include Kynetic.

“Alibaba and American Express recognize ShopRunner as a disruptive model which will have a significant role in the U.S. e-commerce market,” Thompson said in a statement. “This funding will help accelerate ShopRunner’s growth and enable us to continue to build great online shopping experiences for our members.”

The investment shows Alibaba is willing to place bets against Inc. on the Seattle-based company’s home turf. Alibaba also is considering a U.S. initial public offering after talks with Hong Kong’s exchange broke down, a person familiar with the matter said last month.

Alibaba, founded by former English teacher Jack Ma, has been valued by investment banks at as much as $120 billion. That would put it in the same range as Facebook Inc. The only Internet companies that rank higher are Google Inc. and Amazon.

The American Express investment was a “small, minority stake” in ShopRunner, according to Elizabeth Crosta, a spokeswoman for the New York-based company.

ShopRunner is a members-only site that aggregates offers from retail partners, including Toys “R” Us Inc. and Brooks Brothers Inc. The San Mateo, California-based company also provides free two-day shipping.

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