Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba has invested $200 million in the mobile visual messaging app Snapchat, according to published reports. Three-and-a-half-year-old Snapchat allows users to send disappearing photos, videos and texts to each other. Alibaba’s investment values the app at $15 billion, according to analysts, making it one of the highest-value private tech firms in the Silicon Valley.
Alibaba and Snapchat have reportedly long sought to form a partnership of some kind. This investment should give Alibaba, already dominant among Chinese consumers, a bigger foothold in the West as it continues a string of investments in startups. Last year, Alibaba invested millions into messaging app Tango and $100 million into mobile game studio Kabam. The clear appeal, meanwhile, for Snapchat is an avenue to reach 1.3 billion potential Chinese customers.
Though Snapchat made headlines in the past as being the ideal sexting platform, the company has been making internal changes in an attempt to increase its attractiveness to large media brands. Early this year, the app introduced Discover, a section that allows users to watch daily original content from CNN, Vice, National Geographic and other companies.