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Shopping app Wish is raising around $500 million in a new investment

Wish, the maker of the No. 2 shopping app of the same name, is raising a new investment of around $500 million, according to multiple sources familiar with the deal.

The round is valuing the e-commerce startup somewhere above its previous $3.5 billion valuation but lower than $5 billion. Temasek, the investment firm owned by the government of Singapore, is one of the lead investors in the new round, one source said.

Wish has commitments for the vast majority of the $500 million already, but is still in discussions with other investors for additional funds that would push the raise to half a billion dollars, one of the people said.

Wish, based in San Francisco, sells a wide assortment of low-priced, no-brand goods through its core Wish app, as well as other apps called Geek and Mama. Items like $4 watches and $7 sweatpants are shipped directly from Chinese manufacturers, which helps keep prices way down but also can result in deliveries that take several weeks. The goods are the type of items you might come across on Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace or its AliExpress app.

Wish has been investing in warehouse space so it can speed up delivery times by storing popular items closer to where shoppers live. The program, called Wish Express, launched recently and has brought down delivery times to six days, one person said.

The Wish app is generally ranked only behind Amazon in the shopping category of app stores. The startup has been a heavy spender on online ads, and was at one time Facebook’s No. 1 advertiser. The company has succeeded in building a browsing experience that is entertaining and a discounting strategy that encourages impulse purchases. But it still has work to do in weeding out low-quality goods that disappoint shoppers.

Recode (03 Nov 2016)