Youku Tudou, China’s leading online video platform, is expanding into financing and screening of original content. Last year, it backed Andy Lau actioner “Firestorm,” while this month it is launching 20 new TV series. On Aug. 28, it announced the kickoff of Heyi, a movie production and investment shingle with a slate intended to capitalize on content it already produces and owns. Fast-moving Youku Tudou already has a New York stock listing (eCommerce collective Alibaba is a major shareholder) and...
Fast-talking and bookish, Victor Koo has obvious technology-business smarts that come from a career building China’s leading companies in the Internet sector. A start at Stanford business school and UC Berkley in the U.S. gave Koo first-name familiarity with several entrepreneurs who would build some of North America’s web and media empires.
Upon returning to China, he quickly climbed the executive ladder at Chinese portal Sohu.com before co-founding Youku. Although it was often compared with YouTube, Youku operated an ad-supported model somewhere between VOD and broadcast television, offering an alternative to China’s state broadcasting system. Youku adopted some of YouTube’s user generated content model, when it absorbed Chinese site Tudou. Monthly user numbers soared to over 500 million.
The merged Youku Tudou saw Alibaba board as a significant minority investor and later buy it out after mounting losses. In October 2016, Koo gave up his Youku Tudou role to become chairman of Alibaba Digital Media & Entertainment Group’s strategy and investment committee. That puts him at the head of a $1.5 billion fund.