Yu Yongfu is to step down as chairman of Alibaba’s Digital Entertainment Group with effect from Dec. 1. The move follows weeks of rumors, initially denied, about his departure.Yu has been reassigned within Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. He will now will head the Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP), a strategic move initiated by Alibaba founder Jack Ma to expand group operations outside China.Yu previously stepped down from separately listed Alibaba Pictures Group, making way for Fan Luyuan. The Digital Entertainment...
With prior experience at Legend Capital, the venture capital arm of Lenovo, and a role at NASDAQ-listed phone maker Xunlei, he joined Alibaba in 2014, before quickly heading its maps, browser and mobile Internet units.
In a dramatic reshuffle in November and December, he amassed all the top jobs at Alibaba Pictures, the entertainment arm of Jack Ma’s Alibaba, shoving aside seasoned film exec Zhang Qiang and former Star TV exec, LA-based Zhang Wei. Though a newcomer to the movie business, he was installed in January 2017 as CEO of Alibaba Pictures. But by August he ceded that role to fellow technocrat Fan Luyuan while still maintaining oversight of the broader media and entertainment group at Alibaba.
One of his first acts was to flatten the structure at Alibaba Pictures, which has grown quickly in its three-year existence by signing production deals, investing in Hollywood blockbusters and absorbing ticketing and other tech units from the parent company – into what he calls a Goldman Sachs-type organization.
Alibaba Pictures has produced both local Chinese films while also financing U.S. titles including “Star Trek Beyond.” Alibaba also has a strategic minority investment in Amblin Entertainment.
“Our goal is not to become a film and television production company in the traditional sense,” he told employees recently. “The market needs a hard-nosed film and television production company instead of an adventurer with abundant resources.”