Alibaba Pictures will now be spearheaded by financier and technology entrepreneur Yu Yongfu, who replaces Zhang Qiang, according to the statement from the company. Qiang is still a board-level director and has been re-designated as co-president.
Yu has already made clear his plans for Alibaba Pictures
Yu joined Alibaba in 2014 after the e-commerce giant bought the mobile internet and software service provider he headed. UCWeb, acquired in a deal valued at over $2 billion, is now Alibaba’s browser for smartphones. The 40-year old joined Alibaba’s film arm in August.
According to Yu’s open letter to employees after the appointment, he is planning to reshape the film company to be an entity with a flat operational hierarchy and a “Goldman Sachs-style” organizational culture. According to the South China Morning Post, Yu said that dramatic changes have been taking place across the movie industry landscape.
“Following the last three years of exponential growth, we are seeing a wave of consolidation. Next year, there will be a large number of film companies opting to, or being forced to, withdraw from the market,” he stated.
The aim of Ali Pictures was not to be a traditional film company but to get more innovative, he added.
Ali Pictures undergoing a major overhaul
Yu has limited experience in the film business, but he has full control of Alibaba Pictures now. Yu, who is originally from Inner Mongolia, studied business management at Nankai University in Tianjin.
According to company filings, Yu became CEO and chairman of the newly formed Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group in late October and is reporting directly to Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s CEO. Before joining the e-commerce giant, Yu was an associate and vice president with Legend Capital, the venture capital arm of PC maker Lenovo, from 2001 to 2006, notes SCMP.
Ali Pictures is undergoing a major overhaul, including the incorporation of Tao PiaoPiao, an online ticketing platform. The film business has inked several Hollywood partnerships, including small investments in Paramount titles like Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation and a stake in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment. It has yet to release a film fully on its own.
In November, however, the company hired Harry Potter producer David Heyman to develop a potential film franchise from the bestselling YA book series Warriors, notes Hollywood Reporter.
At 9:45 a.m. Eastern, Alibaba shares were up 0.67% at $91.59. Year to date, the stock is up almost 13%.