In March 2014 — before Alibaba was a publicly traded company — the eCommerce giant made its mark in the U.S. eCommerce market with the rollout of 11 Main.
Less than a year and a half later, Alibaba seem to have hit some growing pains and has decided to fold its U.S.-based Amazon competitor into a New York-based social shopping site called OpenSky, according to TechCrunch. The deal will involve folding 11 Main into OpenSky and parts of Auctiva, Vendio and SingleFeed — other Alibaba-owned U.S. companies.
This leaves 11 Main closing up its virtual doors as a standalone site.
What was started as a site to help U.S. entrepreneurs appears as though it will keep its mission — but under a new venture and without Alibaba’s full control. By combining the businesses, the new vision for the online marketplace will include products from 50,000 brands, Alibaba told TechCrunch.
"OpenSky and 11 Main will be joining forces, and we believe together the combined business will be a strong and healthy independent company in which Alibaba will continue to have a significant equity stake,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch in a prepared statement. “This joining of forces will help drive sales worldwide and better deliver on the mission to empower SMB brands to reach and sell to consumers."
Alibaba is also reportedly taking a large stake in OpenSky, but no formal details have been confirmed. Alibaba is said to be taking a 37 percent ownership in the New York-based company. OpenSky, of course, wouldn’t be Alibaba’s first U.S. investment as its also got its hands in Snapchat and Lyft with massive investments in the two growing startups.
Alibaba’s Executive Chairman Jack Ma has stated that he wants Alibaba to have a strong global presence — including in the U.S. — but the folding of 11 Main might just show how tough the market is to enter.