By Nandita Bose
(Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, will launch its first investment arm to expand its e-commerce business in partnership with retail start-ups, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, the company said on Monday.
The plan is being spearheaded by Marc Lore, Wal-Mart's e-commerce chief, who joined the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company from retail upstart Jet.com, which it acquired for more than $3 billion in August.
Since then, Wal-Mart has acquired three small web retailers to add urban and millennial shoppers.
The venture, called Store No. 8, will work with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence, Lore said at Shoptalk, a retail conference in New York. It will be based in California's Silicon Valley, he added.
Wal-Mart will keep the startups separate from the broader organization so that they will not affect the retailer's bottom line in the near term, Seth Beal, senior vice-president, incubation and strategic partnerships, said in an interview.
He declined to give a timeframe for the launch.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago; Editing by Richard Chang)