Updated from Oct. 12 to add comments from JD.com
The office will be located in Santa Clara, Calif., and will be dedicated to research and development. It will also be geared to help ease interactions between the company and American retailers who sell their products on the Chinese marketplace.
Dennis Weng, chief technical advisor for JD Mall, will oversee the new office as it tackles areas such as cloud computing, mobile applications and big-data infrastructure. Having a presence in Silicon Valley will also give JD the ability to hire new technical talent to assist them in R&D efforts. "This new office will make it easier to attract top talent by creating greater working flexibility, and to engage with our partners in the neighborhood," said Senior VP of JD.com and Head of R&D for JD Mall Chen Zhang.
JD.Com launched a U.S.-specific mall on its marketplace in July so that Chinese consumers could easily shop from American brands. Opening up shop in the U.S. will make it easier for the company to continue building relationships with these brands.
"Given the scope and strength of American brands, products and capabilities, the U.S. was the obvious choice as we sought a location for our first office outside of Asia," JD founder and CEO Richard Liu said in a statement. "We are excited to increase our US presence by establishing an operation in the heart of Silicon Valley."
When asked if JD might one day consider marketing to American consumers, Zhang said, "We are constantly evaluating what makes the most business sense for us, but currently the focus of our e-commerce business is China, where we still have enormous opportunities for growth."
The fact that both companies feel the need to have a presence in the U.S. at all is significant.
"It isn't surprising to see Chinese tech companies establishing presence in the US market," said Greg Portell, a partner in A.T. Kearney's Consumer Products & Retail and Media Practices. "The biggest reason is that they benefit from being closer to the ecosystem of investors and industry talent. Plus, the U.S. is still the most meaningful market in terms of scale and influence for most tech segments."