Billionaire and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma is heading to Hollywood along with a group of Alibaba executives to meet with several studios for the acquisition of online content.
Increasing the group's efforts in making a deal with Hollywood, Ma and his colleagues will be meeting up with studios that include Walt Disney, Lions Gate Entertainment, Viacom, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Comcast and Sony, according to people familiar with the matter.
Alibaba, based in Hangzhou, China, will be seeking deals that will give the company either distribution rights to movies and TV shows from the United States to China or investments in shares of the studios.
Alibaba, coming fresh off one of the biggest initial public offerings in the country -- despite 88 percent of Americans not having a clue as to who or what Alibaba is -- is looking for content that the company can sell to consumers in China through set-top boxes.
Alibaba, just like fellow Chinese companies Dalian Wanda Group and Fosun International, is trying to expand its ties in Hollywood while at the same time addressing hurdles such as the rampant censorship and piracy in mainland China.
"Entertainment and film is a very important part of Alibaba's ecosystem," said IResearch analyst Alex Wang, who is based in Beijing.
"The film industry is a really lucrative business, which will become an important growth driver for Alibaba," Wang added.
Back in July, Alibaba already scored agreements to be able to stream content such as The Hunger Games movies and the Mad Men TV shows, both of which are owned by Lions Gate.
Ma will be accompanied in his visits to the Hollywood studios by several Alibaba executives across different units, including digital and entertainment vice president Liu Chunning and Alibaba Pictures head Zhang Qiang.
Hollywood has long been trying to take advantage of the growth in the entertainment industry in China, which has become the second-biggest market worldwide. The market in China for online video could grow to $2.9 billion in 2014, which could more than double to $6 billion by 2017, according to IResearch.
Aside from Alibaba's dealings in the entertainment industry, the company also owns and operates the world's biggest e-commerce website.
Alibaba priced its IPO at $68 per share and raked in $21.8 billion in the process. The financial coffers of the company will provide it with the capability to expand out of China in to the United States and other global markets.