×
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

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    AT&T's Ad-Tech Unit Xandr Buys Clypd To Help Place TV Commercials More Precisely

    Xandr, the AT&T ad-technology unit, has purchased a new company that helps advertisers use data to place commercials in front of the audiences most likely to want to watch them The AT&T division said Friday it had acquired clypd, a company that helps advertisers move forward in a growing desire by Madison Avenue to run [...]

  • AT&T Logo Building

    AT&T TV Now Price Hike Coming Next Month, Base Package to Cost $65

    AT&T is instituting a substantial price hike for its live TV streaming service AT&T TV Now: Customers who have subscribed to the service’s basic “Plus” package will see their bill go up by $15, to a total of $65 per month, starting next month. The telco has started to inform existing subscribers about the price [...]

  • Disney-Family-Movies

    Disney Family Movies SVOD Service Is Shutting Down Ahead of Disney Plus Debut

    After 11 years, Disney is pulling the plug on Disney Family Movies On Demand — with the service’s shutdown coming just days before the launch of the Mouse House’s Disney Plus. Disney Family Movies, which cost between $5-$10 per month, has been available via pay-TV providers in the U.S., including Comcast Xfinity, Charter Communications, Verizon [...]

  • Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham

    Amazon Orders ‘All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur’ Soccer Doc Series

    Amazon has greenlit a new “All or Nothing” sports documentary series, this time following London-based soccer team Tottenham Hotspur. “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” will follow a year in the life of the team, charting the ongoing 2019-20 season. The squad made it to the final of the European Champions League last year, losing to [...]

  • Jeffrey Katzenberg

    Jeffrey Katzenberg's Quibi Picks T-Mobile as Wireless Launch Partner

    Quibi, the short-form mobile TV service founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, announced a pact with T-Mobile to be the official telecommunications partner for its April 2020 launch. T-Mobile will be the exclusive wireless distributor when Quibi launches next spring. However, the arrangement doesn’t mean only T-Mobile customers will be able to subscribe to Quibi: Anyone will [...]

  • Steve Kornacki

    Steve Kornacki, Chris Matthews Stand at Center of New NBC News Podcasts

    After vowing to press ahead more directly into the world of podcasts, NBC News is readying the launch of three additional audio shows centered around politics. “Article II: Inside Impeachment” will help listeners understand the impeachment process. The program, new episodes of which are slated to debut Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays as people head for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content