Alibaba buys $9.5b food-delivery startup

An Ele.me deliveryman on his electric scooter. Photo credit: Alibaba

Jack Ma just ordered some Chinese takeaway – he’s bought food-delivery startup Ele.me in a multibillion-dollar deal.

Ma’s Alibaba announced this morning that it’s taking “full ownership” of Ele.me – which means “Hungry?” in Chinese – by topping up the stake it had in the startup after earlier investments. The buyout figure isn’t disclosed, but the online shopping giant says Ele.me is now valued at US$9.5 billion, up from the US$5.5 billion it was pegged at last year.

Ele.me’s blue-and-white delivery personnel and their electric scooters are a common sight across China. The service gets 9 to 10 million orders each day, which its riders dash to collect and deliver from around 1.3 million participating stores, including major chains like KFC and Starbucks. Its app claims to have 260 million users.

Food fight

Even before today’s deal, Alibaba and Ele.me have been working closely together, with the startup’s foodie offerings available from within Alibaba’s spin-off Alipay mobile wallet app, which has 450 million users.

China’s booming food-delivery market was worth US$31.9 billion in 2017, up 23 percent from the year before.

Alibaba’s Ele.me is locked in a fierce battle for all that takeout food, with archrival Tencent backing two different apps, Meituan and Dianping. Those three apps dominate the market.

Source: Tech in Asia

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