Alibaba expands digital business to include hotel tech giant Beijing Shiji

Alibaba Group Holding recently completed a record-breaking $25-billion initial public offering, and followed it up by purchasing a 15-percent stake in Chinese hospitality technology provider Beijing Shiji Information Technology.

According to Reuters, Alibaba invested $458.66 million into the Chinese tech giant, an investment that is expected to allow Alibaba to develop its Taobao travel business alongside Beijing Shiji, all while helping move customers to Alibaba's e-commerce website.

Beijing Shiji is known for providing IT consulting services to hotel properties in China, and also sells software that manages room reservations, purchasing, inventory and point of sales systems, as well as broadband networks and billing systems. 

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ZD Net reported that this is one of Alibaba's first investments in a brick-and-mortar business, with much of its primary revenue coming from online marketing, adverts, membership fees and cloud services. Alibaba already allows users to pay for meals, taxi rides and other services using its mobile payments application, in conjunction with Beijing Shiji hotels could be the next service added to the list. 

Beijing Shiji provides services to nearly 6,000 hotels, including 90 percent of the country's five-star hotels, according to the Economic Times.  Hotel operators that are serviced by the company include  Grant Hyatt Hotels, Marriott International, Westin Hotels and Resorts and Sofitel Luxury Hotels.

Alibaba has spent over 2.7 billion on acquisitions in 2014, and its portfolio includes a stake in Chinese department store retailer Retail Group and mobile browser developer UCWeb. The company has also invested in Chinese soccer teams and animation studios.

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