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Alibaba is doubling its R&D spend to $5 billion — but that’s less than a third of what Amazon spends

Alibaba plans to spend $15 billion over the next three years.

Rani Molla is a senior correspondent at Vox and has been focusing her reporting on the future of work. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade — often in charts — including at Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is increasing its research and development spending to $15 billion over the next three years — $5 billion per year on average — in the hopes of competing with U.S. tech giants like Amazon and Google.

But even by doubling its previous fiscal year’s spending of $2.5 billion, Alibaba will still fall far behind its American counterparts. Last year its most obvious rival, Amazon, spent $16.1 billion on R&D, more than any company in the world.

Alibaba’s R&D spending is much lower than U.S. tech giants

According to Bloomberg, part of the increased spending will go toward “moonshot” projects and a research unit that will set up R&D labs around the world.

In the U.S., tech companies lead the S&P 500 in R&D spending. Alibaba had to increase its spending just to keep up.

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