Location-based audience and insights platform PlaceIQ announced this morning that it has partnered with — and received a strategic investment from — Alibaba Group, the largest online and mobile commerce company in the world. The minority investment (of an undisclosed amount) is a follow-on addition to PlaceIQ’s $25 million Series D, and will be used to help the company scale its operations globally, beginning with the Chinese market.
PlaceIQ CEO Duncan McCall said that the company has been working for a number of months with Alibaba on location-based online-to-offline services, including marketing, consumer insights, and data-driven decision-making. He said Alibaba had been looking for a true location analytics company to help it better understand and utilize its huge trove of data, and the two companies are already engaged in a phased deployment of PlaceIQ’s technology into Alibaba’s family of companies.
“They have one of the best data stacks that I’ve ever come across,” McCall told Street Fight. “I’d imagine the only companies in the world that would even begin to rival them, just from the core data stack aspect, are probably Apple and Google. … It’s basically Amazon, Ebay, Paypal, YouTube and Twitter, all rolled into one. Once you get in there, it’s a mind-boggling set of assets, and they have location and movement data across all that. So the use case for us deploying our technology there is bigger than pretty much anywhere else in the world — it’s pretty much one of the biggest deals we could ever conceive of doing.”
McCall said much of PlaceIQ’s previous work combining first-party data with location had been around media and the targeting of advertising, but that the partnership indicated that there could be more technology-centered use cases for its platform.
“I think it’s a good sign for the industry in general — including our competitors and everybody else — that location now is really becoming something that is not just mainstream,” said McCall. “It’s quickly becoming of critical importance to both large organizations and small organizations, and to anyone who touches anything to do with consumers to better understand consumer behavior, serve those people better, and really apply the power of location throughout an organization and not just in one specific use case. As we’ve gotten deeper into this, it’s really been awe-inspiring to see the way someone like Alibaba is thinking about the the breadth and scale of what location can bring.”
David Hirschman is a co-founder of Street Fight.