WPP follows in the footsteps of Alibaba with new Chinese e-commerce company Polestar

image-455724156Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma (left) has become China’s richest person with a net worth of $25bn following the IPO of his e-commerce website in the US.

Aliababa is now valued at a staggering $214bn (that’s billions), making it more valuable than Facebook. Ma trousered $18bn from the sale.

Which makes him even richer than Sir Martin Sorrell (by about $24.6bn) But Sorrell’s WPP is trying to get some of the Chinese e-commerce action by launching a new joint venture, Polestar Co.

WPP Digital is taking a minority stake in Polestar (the Chinese authorities prefer it that way) alongside founder and CEO Figo Yang and COO Allen Liu, who have worked at Alibaba. Yang was also a founder of e-commerce warehousing and systems company Wang Cang.

China’s e-commerce market is the world’s largest, passing the US in 2013 and expected to hit $540bn in 2015. But Polestar claims China lacks companies that can provide integrated e-commerce services. So it plans to manage all the bits from marketing through to purchase, fulfilment and delivery. Polestar also plans to launch ‘O2O’ (online to offline) products including an e-commerce data management platform that lets clients track and measure their e-commerce operations.

So is Polestar another Alibaba in the making? Unlikely but it will be interesting to see how much it’s worth if it ever makes it to IPO stage.

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