Weaves, ‘Designer’ Bags and … Sports: Alibaba Teams Up With Companies to Launch New Venture

Deal comes as NBCUniversal lands agreement with world's largest e-commerce source

(Image: Alibaba.com)

Alibaba Group Holding, a leading Chinese e-commerce site led by billionaire Jack Ma, said in a statement it has set up Alibaba Sports Group with Sina, a Chinese Web news site, and Yunfeng Capital, a Ma-backed investment firm. Reports also indicate that the financial details weren’t disclosed, though a statement said Alibaba Sports Group will be majority-owned by Alibaba Group.

Alibaba, which had a record IPO last year, accounted for 80% of e-commerce in 2013 which, according to reported figures, is about $248 billion in business—more than Amazon and eBay combined. Some of that profit comes from U.S. consumers who use Alibaba, particularly consumers looking for human hair, designer-inspired goods and gadgets at bargain prices—from YouTubers critiquing the offerings of vendors of AliExpress—a Web marketplace under Alibaba—to hairstylists and divas touting its extensions, weaves and wigs.

In terms of sports, football clubs Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, NBA star Kobe Bryant and other companies have entered into partnerships with Alibaba in the past six months, according to reports. China has also been a place of success for ex-NBA stars, including Stephon Marbury, a superstar in the country who plays for the Beijing Ducks.

“Alibaba Sports Group aims to transform the China sports industry through the use of Internet-based technologies to bring greater and better products and services to consumers, sports participants and sports fans alike,” said Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang in a statement. Zhang will serve as chairman of Alibaba Sports Group. Zhang Dazhong former vice president of Shanghai Media Group, a China government-controlled media company, will be Alibaba Sports Group’s CEO.

This deal comes as Alibaba has expanded its film offerings via a deal with NBCUniversal International, a multi-year licensing pact that includes $1 billion-topping blockbusters “Fast & Furious 7,” “Jurassic World.” The agreement is part of NBCUniversal’s ongoing plans to expand its businesses outside of the U.S., particularly in China, where subscription video-on-demand is forecast to see rapid growth in the coming years.