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Alibaba Was the Mystery Investor in Jet.com, the Startup Amazon Competitor

Part of Jet's most recent $140 million round came from the Chinese e-commerce giant.

Asa Mathat

When online shopping startup Jet.com said it had raised a $140 million investment in February, its announcement included a mention of unnamed “strategic” investors. Mystery partially solved.

A person familiar with the deal tells Re/code that Alibaba, the world’s most valuable e-commerce company, invested in that round, though the size of the investment could not be learned. Forbes first reported the news, but originally said that Alibaba’s investment had not yet closed.

Spokespeople for Jet and Alibaba declined to comment.

The funding is interesting for several reasons, but most notably because it appears to be the first Alibaba investment in a direct U.S. competitor of Amazon. Jet.com, which is scheduled to launch to some beta users this week, is building a marketplace that promises to offer shoppers the lowest price on the Web for each of the millions of products it sells. Customers will pay a $50-a-year membership fee for access to these deals. Re/code previously outlined how Jet believes it can make this lowest-price promise while building a sustainable business.

Jet was founded by Marc Lore, the former CEO and co-founder of Quidsi, which created several shopping sites including Diapers.com. Amazon ended up buying Quidsi for about $550 million, and Lore spent a couple of years at Amazon before leaving to create Jet.

The deal with Jet is the latest in a series of U.S. investments for Alibaba, which runs Chinese consumer shopping sites Taobao and Tmall, as well as the wholesale marketplace Alibaba.com. Alibaba has purchased stakes in Uber competitor Lyft, e-commerce delivery company Shoprunner and TV remote app Peel, among others.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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