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It’s like Amazon buying a big stake in Twitter; Alibaba – the largest e-commerce player in China with $170bn in sales has just purchased 18% of of Weibo, the largest Twitter-style microblogging platform in China, Weibo (400 million users) for $586m.  The investment is expected to generate  $380 million in social commerce and advertising revenue for Weibo over 3 years, and if all goes according to plan, Alibaba has an option to increase the stake to 30%. Earlier this year, Mercedes made 12% of its annual Smart Car sales target in one day on Weibo.

The official news release is here, but in a nutshell, the Chinese Twitter equivalent states “We believe e-commerce will play a vital role in building an eco-system around Weibo’s open platform.”  Yep, and we think e-commerce will play a vital role in building Twitter too – investment from a Amazon would allow it to explore new business models for social commerce and cooperating in the areas of user account connectivity, data exchange, online payment and online marketing. Social commerce experiments on Twitter are multiplying with Twitter-commerce startup Chirpify securing $2m investment last week from Voyager Capital, and American Express opening a Twitter payment service.

So, will Amazon follow suit over here in the West and buy up Twitter? Or will it be eBay?

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