E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding acquires German data analysis start-up, Artisans

Alibaba Group Holding (“Alibaba”), a Chinese multinational corporation, which provides internet infrastructure, e-commerce, online financial, and internet content services, has acquired German start-up data analysis company, Data Artisans (“Artisans”) [1]. (Reuters, Bloomberg). Alibaba has been called the Chinese “Amazon” and is currently the world's fifth-largest internet company by revenue. (Yahoo Finance). Artisans, which was founded in 2014 by Kostas Tzoumas and Stephan Ewen, is attributed with creating Apache Flink, an open source stream processing framework for high-performance, scalable, and accurate real-time applications. (Ververica). The Apache Flink application essentially analyzes large quantities of data as it comes in, rather than once it is saved, providing for a more efficient stream processing method. (Stephan Scheuer, Handelsblatt).

The acquisition of Artisans comes as Chinese companies continue to expand in the European market. For example, in 2017, China’s State Council announced plans to spend $150 billion dollars on artificial intelligence in an effort to become a global tech leader. (Arjun Kharpal, CNBC). Alibaba’s acquisition of Artisans alone cost about 90 million euros, or $103.1 million dollars, which is the same amount of money invested by Chinese companies in German start-ups throughout 2017. (Stephan Scheuer, Handelsblatt).

Nevertheless, Alibaba’s acquisition of Artisans has raised concerns amongst critics who view China’s expansion in Europe as a potential problem. As China’s presence continues to grow in power, the amount of corporate governance and decision making by its European counterparts will continue to diminish as they will no longer continue to have control over their companies. Overall, the global tech industry’s concern is that China’s government is likely to use advancements like Apache Flink to increase its authoritarian control over the population and become a ‘surveillance state’.
[1] As of February 8, the company is now named Ververica