Alibaba Group Holding Ltd ’s lower-than-expected revenue was the key talking point of Wednesday. Many on Wall Street failed to take notice of the Chinese giant’s bullish plans for its film segment, Alibaba Pictures.
The TV and film arm of Jack Ma’s firm announced some major changes to its structure as it seeks to expand it to become “a leader in the global entertainment industry.” As part of that, Zhang Wei was named President and Deng Kangming the new COO.
Alibaba Brings in Film People
Both have been with the firm for a long time. Zhang joined Alibaba Group Holding Ltd in 2008 and worked at both News Corp and NBC Universal. Deng joined Alibaba in 2004 and had worked at Oracle and Microsoft.
In a statement the firm said, “After a year of consolidation, Alibaba Pictures is ready to advance to the next stage quickly. Alibaba Pictures would speed up market expansion and become an online entertainment company that would make a significant impact on the industry.”
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd picked up its first Hollywood film in recent weeks. It bought a minority stake in Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation.” The amount paid was not revealed. The thriller has already become a global blockbuster, and will hit theaters in China on September 8.
Earlier this year, the firm put money in Guangdong Yueke Software, one of the biggest movie ticket system makers in China. In that country, despite the flagging economy, the film and TV world is booming. This month, Alibaba and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital acquired a $1.2B stake in online video site Youku Tudou.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has laid out plans for four key areas of focus for its film and TV segment: content-making; marketing; e-commerce platform; and overseas unit growth.
The firm is also veering towards a flat control structure to cut through red tape and ramp up growth. The changes are aimed at turning the firm into an online integrated media major.
A Few Set-Backs for Alibaba
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd ‘s efforts to boost its media business have not been without its fair share of road-blocks. The firm gained control of ChinaVision Media in 2014 to form Alibaba Pictures.
But soon, various accounting malpractices at ChinaVision came to the fore. Investors were concerned that the deal was done in a rush.
Last month saw the arrest of Patrick Liu, president at Alibaba’s digital entertainment wing. Chinese authorities allege that he was involved in graft. Alibaba later confirmed that charges were related to his time as head of Tencent Video.