Alibaba’s hunger for investments into the Indian startup ecosystem seems to be indefinite. After leading humongous investments into digital payments major Paytm (and its subsidiaries), the e-commerce giant is now turning its attention to the entertainment industry.
According to a report in ET, Alibaba is actively looking to acquire an online movie ticket booking platform to set itself up in the retail entertainment ecosystem in India. This development has been confirmed by He Xiaopeng, the president of Alibaba’s mobile business. With regards to the same, Xiaopeng said,
Within the group, there is already a momentum like the PayTm investment. We are also going to have some investment in online movie tickets booking sites.
He further added that the company is currently scouting acquisition targets similar to homegrown platform BookMyShow, but did not mention if they were involved in talks with any such competitors. However, it is being suggested that Alibaba Pictures, the company’s movie and TV content arm, is looking to pick a majority 70-75 percent stake in Orbgen Technologies for around $35 million. Orbgen runs the ticketing platform TicketNew, popular in South India.
Alibaba’s entry could further intensify the ongoing competition in the movie ticketing booking industry. BookMyShow has continued to maintain its lead but is now facing some stiff competition from the likes of Tixdo, FastTicket and others. Thus, it’s been adding new tools and services to its arsenal through recent investments and acquisitions.
BookMyShow has acquired Hyderabad-based MastiTickets to further its grasp on regional markets and a 75 percent majority stake in Pune-based DIY ticketing platform Townscript earlier this year. The company has also picked up a massive Rs 550 crores investment at a whopping Rs 3,000 crore valuation from New York-based PE and VC firm Stripes Group, Network 18, Accel Partners, and SAIF Partners.
Further, the report goes on to add the obvious fact that Alibaba sees massive potential in India’s fledgling mobile and internet market. But, with regards to the same, the e-commerce giant is now looking to aggressively build its business and explore investment deals by setting up a strategic group. The long-term goal of the said team has been described by Xiaopeng as under:
We are forming a strategic group to look at the investment strategy here and take it as a long-term goal for considering more investments. Our C-level team is already speaking to major venture capitalists in India for coinvestment opportunities.
The company is also highly impressed by Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani’s leapfrogging move to debut a 4G LTE-only telecom network in the form of Jio. It sees this increase in media consumption as an opportunity to tap into and expand its own TV and movie services into India. Thus, it’s already initiated talks and is exploring infrastructure tie-ups with communication companies.
We are looking at infrastructure tie-ups with partners, exploring opportunities with communications companies in India. China and India has a relationship and India is a base to our global strategy.
(Jio) is definitely an opportunity for us and the entire industry. Content consumption is surging vastly and is good for our operations. It is good for content portfolio and ecosystem, and is also an opportunity for the digital payments segment.
Thus, it would be interesting to see how Alibaba’s intervention into the retail entertainment space transforms the business. And what preventive steps do currently leading platforms take to hold onto their monopoly and large market shares will be an interesting feat to witness.