AutoNavi (NASDAQ: AMAP), a Chinese digital map and navigation solution provider, announced that Alibaba has invested approximately $294 million in newly issued preferred and ordinary shares for about 28% of the company’s total shares on a fully-diluted basis. Thus Alibaba becomes its biggest shareholder.

The two parties will work together on the infrastructure for location-based and lifestyle services. On top of that they’d cooperate in data collecting, maps engine, product development, cloud computing, cross-marketing and monetization, states Alibaba. “The parties plan to share certain data, including AutoNavi’s map data and location-related information of the merchants on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, including Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com”, according to the press release by AutoNavi.

Maps seem to have become a must for every company who is expanding, or has to expand, to mobile Internet market. But most big players, such as Tencent, Baidu and Sohu, chose to develop it on their own. Last October Taobao released a map-based service for consumers to search for information about local businesses and deals, with map content being provided by AutoNavi.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com