• ALIBABA OPENS DATA CENTER IN SILICON VALLEY: SAN JOSE (AP) — The cloud-computing unit of Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba is making its first foray into the U.S. by opening a data center in Silicon Valley.
Aliyun, Alibaba’s cloud-computing subsidiary, is opening the center to try to sell its data storage and other services to U.S. companies. It will be competing against Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and Google’s cloud platform services.
In China, Aliyun has been offering commercial cloud services to government agencies and merchants on Alibaba’s Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace online shopping platforms since 2009.
Sicheng Yu, Aliyun vice president and head of its international business, said the company was “testing the water” in the U.S.
“We know well what Chinese clients need, and now it’s time for us to learn what U.S. clients need,” he said in a blog posting on Alibaba’s website.
By the end of the year Aliyun plans to expand to Southeast Asia and Europe as well.
Shares of Alibaba Group rose $3.91, or 4.8 percent, to close at $85.49 on Wednesday. The stock is closer to the low end of its trading range since it went public in September and is off 29 percent since its trading high of $120.
• WILL FACEBOOK MAKE A CAR? ZUCKERBERG: FOCUS ON THE NETWORK: NEW YORK (AP) — No cars and solar power for Facebook, it seems.
Asked at a town hall event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, if the world’s biggest social network had ambitions outside of social media and the Internet, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook is “pretty focused.”
Apple has created phones, music players and computers and is rumored to be working on an electric car. Google has a driverless car, has invested in solar power and is working on cancer-detecting pill.
Nonetheless, Facebook’s goal of connecting people globally is “pretty broad,” Zuckerberg said. That includes enabling people to share their own photos and videos and message each other as well as giving businesses a platform.
Facebook is also trying to get more people in developing countries online through its Internet.org push and developing its virtual-reality technology.
• ONLINE RETAILER ETSY FILES FOR IPO VALUED AT UP TO $100M: NEW YORK (AP) — Etsy, the online retailer used by hobbyists and people who make their living selling their crafts, is going public.
The Brooklyn-based company filed paperwork Wednesday for an initial public offering of stock valued at up to $100 million. It did not say yet how many shares it plans to sell or specify the timing of the deal.
But the company said up to 5 percent of the shares sold in its IPO will be set aside for individual investors. That will allow U.S.-based Etsy users and others to participate in the offering, it said.
LendingClub Corp., which facilitates personal and small business loans by connecting borrowers with investors, offered a similar program when it went public in December.
Matt Kennedy, an analyst for IPO ETF manager Renaissance Capital, said companies can set aside shares for retail investors to build engagement with their users and to reflect their culture. He noted Etsy and LendingClub are both built around communities, and by setting aside some shares for their users, they can counter the perception that the IPO primarily benefits the company and a few large investment firms.
Etsy was founded in June 2005 as a marketplace for handmade goods and craft supplies. Originally called Indieco, it changed its name a year later.
It generated $1.93 billion in gross sales in 2014, posting $195.6 million in revenue, up 56 percent from 2013. It said almost 20 million people made at least one purchase through its site last year.
Its losses rose to $15.2 million in 2014 from $800,000 in 2013. The company had 685 employees as of Dec. 31.
It says it will use proceeds from the IPO for working capital and general corporate purposes.
Etsy Inc. plans to list its shares on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “ETSY.