Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group and the International Olympic Committee used the World Economic Forum as a platform today to announce a historic and long-term deal which sees the Chinese e-commerce giant become IOC’s Worldwide Olympic Partner through 2028. Under the digital pact, Alibaba will be the IOC’s official cloud services and e-commerce platform services partner, as well as a founding partner of the Olympic Channel.
For Ma, the move falls in line with his strategy for Alibaba. Asked about his future acquisitions plans, he responded, “Honestly, I’m not that interested in acquisitions. I’m interested in partnerships. The difference between Alibaba global and other global companies is we are looking for partners to empower them to be powerful.”
The press conference in Davos this afternoon was attended by Ma, IOC President Thomas Bach and Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang who outlined the strategic partnership, which in a digital world will “transform the global Olympic movement.”
But several journos in the room pressed Ma on his recent discussions with President-elect Donald Trump and whether the Chinese billionaire was serious about his promise to help create one million jobs in the U.S. Ma reiterated comments he made yesterday about Trump being “open-minded” and a listener. Regarding his jobs pledge, he said, “I’m serious. I’m not talking to a normal person, I’m talking to the President-elect about creating jobs. If that’s not serious, it’s gonna be a joke.”
Back to the subject at hand, Alibaba is the first company to make a long-term commitment, and the first Chinese company to commit to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. The group will support organizers of each edition of the Olympic Games, and the Olympic Movement around the world. Along with Beijing 2022, Alibaba’s global activation rights will include PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and Games in 2024, 2026 and 2028 in cities yet to be determined.
Bach said Alibaba’s cloud computing infrastructure and cloud services will help the IOC “to organize the Games more efficiently, effectively and securely and will open for us the door to the world of big data analytics.” Further, with the creation of a global Olympic e-commerce platform, all stakeholders including all 206 national Olympic committees “will be able to engage and connect better with all fans looking for licensed products.” Finally, leveraging Alibaba’s digital media technologies and know-how, the Olympic Channel will be developed and customized for a Chinese audience.
Alibaba execs would not be led as to the financial terms of the deal with Ma saying it is “invaluable in terms of brand image on the global stage. We don’t want to be another sponsor, but a true partner to be game-changer. That’s the value we seek.”