Alibaba Subsidiary Confirms $190M Series A For Sports Sales Franchise

Morning Report: Alibaba’s Alisports raised $190 million from Hong Kong-based YF Capital to increase its presence in the sporting market.

Alibaba’s sporting subsidiary, Alisports, confirmed its raise of a $190 million Series A led by Hong Kong-based Yunfeng (YF) Capital to build its reach in the Chinese sporting goods and broadcast industry. This giant round adds to the growing number of large Series A rounds in China where, as Crunchbase News has reported, the average Series A in 2016 amounted to $73.47 million. The round was initially reported by Technode in April 2017.

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YF Capital is a Hong Kong-based private equity firm founded by David Yu and Alibaba’s Jack Ma. The firm also participated in the $818 million Series C led by Tencent for used car trading platform Chehaodao in March 2018 among 47 other investments.

Alisports was founded in 2015 by Dazhong Zhang as a subsidiary of the ecommerce giant Alibaba. According to Bloomberg, the company began bay using customers’ demographic data to tailor its marketing on ecommerce sites, pushing certain sporting products based on the users location and past purchases. “When customers buy tennis rackets or basketballs through Alisports, the site sends them recommendations for local coaches and court times they can reserve online,” Bloomberg reported.

Alisport’s reach in the sporting market is furthered by partnerships with sporting associations like the Ladies Professional Golf Association, the International Boxing Association and the FIFA Club World Cup. According to Technode, the company, which is part of Alibaba’s culture and entertainment group, is the exclusive sponsor for the World Cup in China from 2017 to 2020, and partners with companies in ticket selling, sports training, and events promotion.

The company reportedly also announced its acquisition of online fitness app and wearables company Beijing Ledongli. According to Technode’s 2017 report, Alisports tripled it’s revenue from November 2016 to November 2017, raising it by RMB 3.61 billion ($573 million).

This is yet another attempt for Alibaba to spread its reach in growing industries in China. Crunchbase News has reported on Alibaba’s competition with Tencent in the dockless bike sharing competition, with lead investments in ofo’s monstrous $700 million Series E in July 2017 and $866 million Series F in March 2018.

Editorial Note: Article has been updated to note that the round has been confirmed, not raised, today. 

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Illustration Credit: Li Anne Dias

Editorial Update: Crunchbase News previously reported a new round of Series A funding, the $190 million round was announced in April 2017.  Crunchbase News previously reported that the company had a reported revenue of 400 million yuan, it has since been updated.


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