New Delhi: Chinese Internet retailer Alibaba’s mobile business arm is forming a strategic group that will explore opportunities to increase investments in India, with no ceiling for deployment of funds.
The group’s digital media platform UCWeb is also planning to collaborate with Paytm and other e-commerce firms to push its content ecosystem. “The first one we may see a collaboration between UCWeb India and Paytm and e-commerce platform in which Alibaba has invested,” Alibaba Mobile Business Group president He Xiaopeng told PTI in an interview.
Besides Paytm, the group also has investments in Indian e-commerce firm Snapdeal.
He Xiaopeng is also co-founder of UCWeb, which on Wednesday announced that it will pay a minimum of Rs50,000 per month to the top 1,000 content creators or writers on its We-Media platform. We-Media allows users to register and post their own content like articles, photos, videos etc.
UCWeb has announced Rs5 crore as rewards to push user generated content in India. The company in January announced its plans to invest Rs200 crore for driving content distribution in India over the next 2 years.
Xiaopeng said that his team is having discussions with venture capitalists to co-invest in media content distribution and in the development of a content ecosystem in India.
“We are forming our strategic group here specifically looking into the investment strategy for India. Overall, Alibaba would most probably do strategic investment and strategic acquisition. We would not like to disclose any fixed figure now but it will be very big. There is no cap for it because strategy is for the long term,” Xiaopeng said.
Alibaba’s UCWeb has over 50% market share (as per Stat Counter) in the Indian mobile browser segment. UCWeb’s content distribution platform UC News, launched in June 2016, has registered 80 million monthly active users in India as of February 2017, Alibaba Mobile Business Group GM-overseas business Kenny Ye said.
When asked if UCWeb has plans to partner telecom companies to build infrastructure like Google and Facebook are doing to enhance their reach, Xiaopeng responded positively. “That is an yes. Like Chrome (Google’s Internet browser) has been doing for telecommunication partners, we are also exploring this kind of opportunity with telecom partners. In other ways, there has already been some kind of establishments. For example, Paytm, our partner, is already in the infrastructural level of digital payment. It is going to have chemistry with us in the future,” Xiaopeng said.
He said UCWeb will soon enter the online ticket bookings space but did not disclose details about it.