×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Head of Alibaba’s Youku Sacked, Under Police Investigation for Corruption

Yang Weidong, president of Alibaba’s video-streaming platform, Youku, has been fired and is under police investigation for corruption, the company confirmed Tuesday. Alibaba Pictures chairman and CEO Fan Luyuan will take over running China’s equivalent of YouTube, while also continuing in his current capacity.

Yang, who also served as head of Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group, is one of the leading figures in China’s fast-growing streaming video business. There was no formal announcement of his ouster, but a spokesperson for Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment referred to Yang as “ex-president” and told Variety that the exec “is understood to be assisting mainland authorities with an investigation into an alleged case of seeking economic benefits.” No further details were provided.

Alibaba had already been internally investigating Yang for some time, respected Chinese finance magazine Caijing reported Tuesday, adding that the suspected corruption likely had to do with “problems with revenue and expenditures” tied to Youku’s variety show “This Is,” launched earlier this year. The “economic benefits” in question may involve more than 100 million yuan ($14.6 million), according to Chinese business news website huxiu.

“This Is” targeted younger viewers and millennials with reality show competitions on subjects such as basketball, singing, and robot fighting. The first and most popular, known as “Street Dance of China,” sought to capitalize on the interest in hip-hop culture sparked by runaway reality hit “The Rap of China” after authorities expressed consternation for hip-hop-related content appearing on television.

Yang’s apparent fall from grace comes just five days after his most recent public appearance at an industry conference in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu on Nov. 29. A glowing profile of him in China Entrepreneur Magazine two months ago quoted him as saying: “I fear when others are greedy, and am greedy when others are afraid.”

Yang is not the first Youku or Alibaba media executive to fall afoul of the authorities. In 2016, former Youku vice president Lu Fanxi was detained on corruption charges. In 2015, Patrick Liu Chunning was arrested and tried on charges of corruption involving 2.14 million yuan (about $313,000 at current exchange rates) in bribes received while at a prior job with Tencent Video. Kong Qi was similarly arrested while working for Alibaba Pictures, on suspicion of offenses committed while he, too, was at Tencent.  

The sudden change at the top of Youku comes after a recent restructuring within Alibaba Group, announced last Monday. Alibaba Pictures’ Fan had already been designated to succeed Yang as rotating president of the wider Digital Media and Entertainment group.

Patrick Frater contributed to this report.

More Digital

  • Lauren Dolgen Exits as BuzzFeed Studios

    Lauren Dolgen Exits as BuzzFeed Studios Boss After a Year

    Veteran TV producer Lauren Dolgen has departed as head of BuzzFeed Studios after one year in the job. BuzzFeed had hired Dolgen, a longtime MTV producer who worked on shows including “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant,” as head of BuzzFeed Studios to oversee the company’s slate of original content. Based in L.A., she had [...]

  • Snap-Derek-Andersen-Lara-Sweet

    Snap Fills Out Senior Ranks With CFO, HR Chief Appointments

    Snap CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel has turned in house to fill the company’s CFO and head of human resources positions, completing an overhaul of the Snapchat parent’s executive ranks after a series of high-level departures. The company announced the appointment of Derek Andersen, currently Snap’s VP of finance, as chief financial officer. Andersen will [...]

  • Oculus Quest Gets Netflix App, But

    Oculus Quest Will Have Netflix, but Not Plex or HBO

    Facebook’s new Oculus Quest headset is launching with a number of high-profile gaming titles this Tuesday. Media apps on the other hand will take a bit of backseat, with some key players sitting this latest headset out for the time being. First, the good news for anyone who has pre-ordered the headset: One of the [...]

  • Lester Holt

    Chris Berend Tapped to Oversee NBC News' Digital Efforts

    Chris Berend, an executive who has been overseeing digital video for CNN and helped launch Great Big Story, a streaming-video site aimed at younger audiences, will jump to NBC News to lead its digital efforts. Berend will replace Nick Ascheim, who will move into a new role that is described as “improving digital and product [...]

  • Vogue, Conde Nast Entertainment Make Robert

    Robert Semmer Joins Condé Nast Entertainment & Vogue as Vice President of Video

    Condé Nast Entertainment and Vogue have named former Vice and Fader video executive Robert Semmer as their new vice president of video. Semmer will be based in New York and report to Croi McNamara, senior vice president of programming for Condé Nast Entertainment. “Anna and I are thrilled to welcome Robert to our award-winning video [...]

  • CEO of T-Mobile John Legere (L)

    FCC Chairman Backs T-Mobile, Sprint Merger With New Conditions

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a thumbs-up to T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed $26 billion merger, after the companies committed to enhanced 5G buildout commitments and agreed to spin off Sprint’s Boost Mobile. T-Mobile and Sprint first announced their plans to merge in April 2018, looking to combine forces to take on industry leaders AT&T and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content