Retail chain giant Wal-Mart is launching a tech incubator in Silicon Valley, focused on robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Dubbed as “Store №8”, the new incubator’s name is a reference to a Wal-Mart location in Arkansas, where the company experimented with new store layouts.
The new initiative was announced by Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas.
Marc Lore is also the co-founder of Jet.com, the e-commerce startup that was acquired by Wal-Mart in 2016, for a sum of $3 billion USD in cash and $300 million USD in stock.
According to Lore’s statement, Walmart will invest in the startup businesses like a VC company and grow the group as a portfolio. The incubator will partner with other startups, venture capitalists and academics. The group’s portfolio startups will be independent from Walmart’s business.
The announcement is seen as a move to fight Amazon and grow its e-commerce business.
Earlier in 2016, billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway had sold off about $900 million worth of Wal-Mart stock, reflecting market concerns about the company’s prospects in competing with Amazon.com.