Top Alibaba executives Daniel Zhang and Joe Tsai quit board of e-commerce giant’s sports unit: Tianyancha
- The sports subsidiary, which was created in 2015, was once seen as a new growth driver for Alibaba
- According to a 21st Century Business Herald report, the sports unit has remained profitable amid a challenging macro environment
Alibaba Group Holding CEO Daniel Zhang Yong and vice-chairman Joe Tsai have both quit the board of sports subsidiary Alibaba Sports, according to corporate registration records on Tianyancha, an online commercial database.
Alibaba Sports said in a statement that CEO Mu Yang is taking on the chairman’s role, without elaborating.
Alibaba Sports does not publicly disclose its financial data but according to an internal memo issued by Mu - reported by Chinese media outlet 21st Century Business Herald in June - the company’s revenue increased 150 per cent last year with operating gross profit also up 150 per cent in 2021 from the year before.
The sports subsidiary, which was created in 2015, was once seen as a new growth driver for Alibaba, bolstering its mission of bringing “health and happiness” to Chinese consumers. The unit was originally set up with Zhang Dazhong, the former vice-president of Shanghai Media Group, as chief executive.
In a 2017 interview, Zhang said his mission was “to build the platform [into par of the] infrastructure of China’s sports economy”.
Alibaba Sports aims to bring its digital capabilities to sports in China. In early 2019, it became a part of Alibaba’s culture entertainment unit, with other business lines such as video-streaming service Youku and Damai, an entertainment ticketing platform, also included, according to public information on its website.
Zhang – who stepped down as CEO in 2019 – remains as a board member of Alibaba Sports, according to Tianyancha.
The number of offline sports venues operated by Alibaba Sports is expected to reach 30 by the end of this year and it wants offline sports services to contribute more than half of its revenue in the next five to 10 years, according to the 21st Century Business Herald report. Ledongli, a sports app developed by the company that utilises artificial intelligence, can help to track a person’s exercise time and other metrics.
The sports app also facilitates online sports competitions, and attracted more than 336,000 students to participate in a fitness competition over the past two semesters, according to a news article published on its official website.
Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.