The parent company of Alibaba.com said it would hire up to 5,000 people in 2009, increasing the internet firm’s headcount to 17,000, Bloomberg reported. The hiring will be focused on China, but staff will also be added in the US and Europe. Alibaba’s expansion comes at a time when technology companies in the US are laying off workers to cut costs. The firm has offered cheaper packages to encourage companies to market their products on its site as China’s export sales decline due to the global financial crisis. Alibaba also earmarked US$731 million for its Taobao.com auction site as consumers make the shift to purchasing items online.