Alibaba buys Vendio
Yesterday some big news was announced by Alibaba.com, an Asian B2B Supplier sourcing platform, and its wholesale marketplace arm (AliExpress). They bought U.S. company Vendio. (Personal note, congrats to our Bay Area friends at Vendio, looks like we’ll be seeing some interesting things from you guys in the future). Vendio is has been around in one form or another since the go-go Internet craze of the dot.com. Today Vendio is a merchandising and online store platform that includes auction management tools that they picked up when they bought Andale (formerly Auction Watch) in 2006.
Auctionbytes covered the Vendio acquisition yesterday, as did the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and bloggers of all shapes and sizes. The Auctionbytes article by Ina Steiner is a great read and has some back of the envelope calculations on how much Vendio raised and how much was previously raised by Andale. While most of the industry analysts and many commentators are focusing on Alibaba’s core business as the rationale for the acquisition – Get Vendio merchants to source product on Alibaba or close the transaction for wholesale buying on AliExpress – Ina’s article looks at eBay data as one of the main points of the acquision. Alibaba stated it was all about driving more transactions off Alibaba and AliExpress in the Alibaba press release. I for one, think it’s part eBay data, part opportunity to drive transactions to AliExpress and mostly to help their core customer base of manufacturers and suppliers learn how to sell in major marketplaces in the U.S.
Some of the interesting tidbits I’ve gathered from various sources: (see trackbacks)
- AliExpress/Alibaba team is armed with a $100M war chest for acquisitions to beachhead AliExpress and make it a force in the Wholesale e-commerce transaction space. Note, you can’t actually close the transactions on Alibaba.com, it’s a communication platform between wholesale sellers and interested buyers. AliExpress is the transaction platform that includes an escrow service for buyer/seller protection during the complexity of a cross-border wholesale inventory purchase.
- Vendio mentioned they have 80K SMB sellers on their platform. It looks like the bulk of the sellers are eBay auction sellers; although the Vendio store platform was very well positioned as price competitive and they had a pretty slick looking mobile e-commerce application.
- Rumblings on the internet are that Vendio was shopping for a buyer for a few months so I’m betting this is not secret to insiders. I wonder if eBay was at the table given the amount of data that Vendio was holding from the Andale platform. Perhaps Amazon had a seat too as Vendio was trying to grow their off e-bay business. If so (I have no clue), this probably helped the Vendio team in their purchase price. I’m wondering who is shaking their heads this am.
- Alibaba just picked up a pretty interesting merchandising software. Vendio is all about selling and getting inventory in front of buyers and managing the complexity of the auction process. Heck, even their name has the root of “sell” in the latin based languages. So the branding specialists that masterminded the Alibaba brand are probably excited to get their hands on Vendio if they have Latin American intentions. Is there an AliVend in the future (sorry couldn’t help but go there)?
A few other editorial opinions:
- The cross-border e-commerce trends are accelerating. Few weeks we blogged that Buy.com got picked up by a Japanese firm that promptly went and bought another major European marketplace PriceMinister in a clear move to scale. The U.S. e-commerce market is one of the most mature in the world and the companies that have pushed the maturity envelope are sitting on a lot of expertise and merchant data that is looking pretty tasty to overseas buyers armed with large acquisition checkbooks. Is this the harbinger of a big M&A summer? Probably.
- Alibaba wanted 80,000 eBay merchants to pay attention to their sourcing platform and they wanted to give their millions of Alibaba Gold Suppliers access to sales tools to make them more powerful 3rd party sellers. I’ve blogged about the attractiveness of 3rd party sellers to the big marketplaces and AliExpress is gearing up to be a big marketplace (why else would they direct $100M in investment at it).
- I’m loving my 2010 e-commerce predictions right about now. The value of third-party sellers increases. Cross-border e-commerce is going to be the big driver in 2011 too. Shipwire released our Export Index that makes the point that overseas selling is accelerating.
- Has anybody seen a Vendio API that will plug into the Shipwire order notification, shipping rate and inventory API‘s? I surfed over to the Vendio Developers Corner; but, the focus is on web site templates and designs for their store front. I’m betting we start seeing more requests for this integration soon.
- Free eBay order fulfillment shipping tools by Shipwire
- Channel Advisor order fulfillment shipping
- Shipwire Order Fulfillment, real time shipping rate, real time inventory API