Caixin
BUSINESS & TECH

Alibaba Invests in Online Parenting Portal Babytree

Launched in 2007, Babytree says it has 200 million monthly active users. Photo: Babytree
Launched in 2007, Babytree says it has 200 million monthly active users. Photo: Babytree

E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. made a strategic investment in Babytree Inc. that values the latter at 14 billion yuan ($2.19 billion), the parenting website operator said Monday in a press release.

The amount of Alibaba’s investment and its shareholding in Babytree weren’t disclosed. Last week, online cosmetics seller Jumei International Holding Ltd. said it agreed to sell shares equivalent to about 4% of Babytree to an unnamed buyer for a total consideration of $86.5 million. That transaction valued Babytree at about $2.16 billion, according to a calculation by Caixin. The transaction left Jumei with about 3.33% of Babytree.

China’s easing of control over family planning policies, allowing parents to have a second child, is expect to fuel the growth of businesses related to pregnancy, child rearing and education.

Alibaba and Babytree set up a strategic partnership to pursue cooperation on e-commerce, customer-to-manufacturer services, advertising and marketing, online education and other business, Babytree said. Caixin was unable to reach Alibaba immediately for comment.

Established in 2007, Babytree bills itself as China’s largest online community for parents with 200 million monthly active users. Babytree operates an online platform and mobile app for parents to share pregnancy and parenting information. It also runs an e-commerce platform and develops childhood education services.

Babytree’s most recently announced fundraising came at the end of 2016, when it generated 3 billion yuan from investors led by Fosun Group, including TAL Education Group, Matrix Partners, Chenshan Capital, and China Merchants Wealth.

The tie-up with Alibaba will “empower Babytree's business development in various fronts and unleash its potential,” said Allen Wang, Babytree’s founder and CEO. He said the alliance will create a marketing giant targeting China’s young families.

Under the partnership, Alibaba will provide e-commerce solutions to Babytree in terms of business operation, technology, logistics and talent, Babytree said. The two companies will also collaborate on marketing, customer access, big data and other areas.

Babytree said it joined with Fosun, a pharmaceuticals-to-finance conglomerate, to set up a joint venture offering healthcare services for young families in China. The company also partnered with Fisher-Price, a unit of U.S. toy giant Mattel Inc., to develop early-childhood learning centers. Babytree vice president Wei Xiaowei said the company was aiming to open 500 such centers this year and 3,000 over the next three years, according to a report in the official English language China Daily.

Alibaba in recent years has stepped up its investment in vertical e-commerce operators like Baybytree that target specific groups of consumers to expand its business reach. Last week, Alibaba joined a group of investors to pour $300 million into a new round of fundraising for Chinese lifestyle app Xiaohongshu, giving it a market valuation of more than $3 billion. In April, Alibaba announced a 4.5 billion yuan investment in Huitongda Network Co., an e-commerce platform serving rural consumers.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

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