E-commerce giant Alibaba is investing $486 million in Shiji, a Beijing-based maker of software for hotels, retailers, and food service providers. The company is officially known as Beijing Shiji Information Technology and employs 3,000.

Some industry professionals speculate Alibaba may want to leverage this to enhance its Taobao Travel agency, while others consider the investment is an attempt to enjoy fast-growing and steadily recurring income in a SaaS business.

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