‘Alibaba Town’ And Jack Ma’s Expanding Empire

As if Alibaba’s presence across Asia weren’t enough, the Chinese e-commerce giant may be creating its own “Alibaba Town.”

Yes, a town. The e-commerce company has plans to invest $460 million into a one-million square-metered facility in Incheon, Korea, in collaboration with the city’s government — which will be matching Alibaba’s contribution. But the deal is far from finalized, Tech In Asia reported.

“Alibaba Group sees great potential in the South Korean market, however the media reports on the ‘Alibaba town’ investment are purely speculative. Any disclosures regarding our investments will be announced through the proper channels,” an Alibaba spokesperson said.

The Alibaba town is said to include logistical facilities for a Alibaba warehouse, along with a shopping mall, restaurant and cultural facilities. Tech In Asia reported that Incheon’s government “has a history of seeking collaborations with foreign businesses,” in order to attract more tourists. The town would also increase Alibaba’s e-commerce and physical presence in South Korea.

Alibaba’s reach in the entertainment industry is also heading into movies as the e-commerce company recently announced that it has chosen Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai for its first movie to be made by Alibaba Pictures. The company took a majority share in ChinaVision for U.S. $804 million. The new film is called “Bai Du Ren” (The Ferryman).

Alibaba is adding diversity to its e-commerce channels as the company announced it would be using Taobao and Tmall — its largest online marketplaces — to promote the film through its merchants. With their more than a quarter of a billion active shoppers on the site, Taobao and Tmall can offer a wider base for movie promotion and merchandise. This move of using an e-commerce site to promote media is fairly new in China and is using similar tactics seen in the U.S. on Amazon Studios or Amazon Prime.

“In addition to streaming media and other digital entertainment products, the company plans to develop licensed products that will be spun off from entertainment projects. Alibaba Pictures says it will partner with retailers hosted on Alibaba shopping websites to design and sell derivative products,” the company said.


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