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A Handful of Blockbuster E-Commerce Acquisitions That Could Happen in 2015

Plus a bunch of honorable mentions.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

It’s rare to see a billion-dollar M&A deal in the e-commerce industry, but there’s a chance we could see more than one in 2015 thanks to a confluence of events. Alibaba, flush with valuable stock following the biggest IPO ever, is poised to make big moves. The planned separation of eBay and PayPal could make both acquisition targets. And a group of giant but slow-growing startups could decide their best bet is to be bought by a major industry player. Here are five possible commerce and payments deals that would make waves in 2015, plus a short list of other M&A possibilities.

Alibaba buys eBay

EBay’s announcement that it would spin off its payments unit PayPal in 2015 was also a tacit acknowledgement that both businesses were for sale. The e-commerce industry loves to speculate that Alibaba — with its $263 billion market value — might want to gobble up eBay. Alibaba has no legitimate consumer presence in the U.S., which eBay would help with, and the two marketplaces could combine to challenge Amazon in emerging areas overseas. Plus, they both pride themselves on the same differentiator with Amazon: They don’t compete against their own vendors.

Other possible suitors: Google, Amazon.

Walmart buys PayPal

Not the sexiest M&A possibility — especially for PayPal employees — but sources say the idea has been discussed by Walmart execs in the last few months. For Walmart, a deal for PayPal could accomplish several things: Give it a proven payment method with a giant consumer base to challenge Apple Pay in mobile payments, while replacing the retailer-backed app CurrentC, which has yet to launch. If Walmart embedded PayPal as the de facto payment option on, it could help reduce the credit card fees Walmart pays card issuers since many PayPal users fund their PayPal purchases through their bank account rather than a credit card. It also could give Walmart leverage in negotiating these fees with several financial services companies.

One hurdle: If Walmart has previously discussed a PayPal deal with eBay and wants to purchase PayPal after its split with eBay, it could mess with the tax-free nature of the spinoff for eBay.

Other possible suitors: Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Visa.

Walmart buys Wish

Wish, a mobile shopping app, is on fire. It has been one of the Top 10 shopping apps on the iPhone for much of this year and recently closed a large undisclosed investment from Yuri Milner’s DST Global that sources say valued the app maker at $1 billion or more. The app lets shoppers buy clothes and accessories directly from Chinese manufacturers, for insanely low prices that Walmart would be proud of. An image-heavy layout plus an algorithm that fine-tunes what products are shown based on browsing behavior translates to highly engaged users.

Other possible suitors: Any low-priced retailer.

Google buys Postmates

Google has an Amazon problem. Every time an online shopper searches for a product on Amazon instead of Google, Google loses a chance to show lucrative product search ads to the shopper. The Google Express program is Google’s grab at those product searches. The service lets online shoppers buy goods on Google and get them delivered from local stores on that very day. One problem: Google’s current delivery operation is very expensive and not sustainable, according to several industry sources. As a result, Postmates‘ technology, which matches customer orders to be picked up from local stores with a network of on-demand couriers in the area, could be very attractive.

Other possible suitors: Uber, Amazon.

Twitter buys Stripe

Okay, I admit this one is a real long shot, especially with Stripe recently being valued at $3.5 billion. But it’s worth a mention. If Twitter really is serious about building an e-commerce business, it may want its own backend payments provider that’s dead simple for merchants big and small to use. Another use case: Stripe’s payments service gets baked into Twitter’s new mobile app development service Fabric, cementing it as the full-service toolbox app developers flock to.

Other possible suitors: Any company with deep pockets that wants to make selling stuff online easier.

Honorable mentions: T.J.Maxx buys Gilt Groupe, Urban Outfitters buys Nasty Gal, Amazon buys Instacart, Whole Foods buys Blue Apron, Alibaba buys Snapdeal, Nordstrom buys Bonobos, UPS buys Shyp.

This article originally appeared on

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