Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, smiles during the company’s IPO at the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Pic: AP

Alibaba’s Jack Ma has been a busy man, inks deal with Spielberg’s film company

EVERYBODY’S favorite side-hustle success story, Jack Ma, has been keeping very busy. The founder and chairman of Alibaba, who famously went from self-taught English teacher to business tycoon, has had his hand in a number of different projects as of late – each more varied than the next.

The latest is Alibaba Pictures announcing a partnership with Amblin Partners – a film and television production company founded by Steven Spielberg. The deal would include buying up a minority stake in Amblin, which would allow the entertainment company, that’s partly-owned by Alibaba, the option to finance some of Spielberg’s films. Alibaba would also handle all the marketing, distribution and merchandising of the movies in China.

The partnership makes sense for Alibaba, as there is an “increasing demand for premium global content” among Chinese consumers, as reported by Tech in Asia. Beyond its interest in entertainment, Alibaba is also eager to make its mark in the media space – having purchased Hong Kong English language newspaper South China Morning Post.

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Another move involves Ant Financial, the online services firm that is controlled by Jack Ma, which has just appointed a new CEO. Ma chose Eric Jing to take the chief executive seat, who is, as reported by Bloomberg: “A veteran of corporate finance with extensive experience working with multinational companies.”

Putting Jing in charge comes ahead of the firm’s plans for a Hong Kong market debut, which is touted to be the city’s largest IPO to date. It’s also worth noting that Jing was Ant’s CFO and president before moving up to take the top job.

As if inking big overseas deals and making leadership shifts in his affiliate companies weren’t enough, Jack Ma was invited to join a steering committee to advise the Indonesian government on e-commerce. The move was to help Indonesia position itself more strategically in the international marketplace as the Southeast Asian country is central to an e-commerce sector boom.

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Some feel that Ma’s influence over Indonesian e-commerce policy might be a potential conflict of interest as Alibaba also owns a majority stake in Lazada and clearly has plans to win the Southeast Asian market.