The Alibaba News Roundup is a weekly digest of events and happenings across the company. This week’s coverage looks at how Alibaba is using digital tech to transform how fans engage with the Olympic Games. Also covered are the latest developments with the Africa’s Business Heroes and Jumpstarter entrepreneur competitions as well as the kickoff of Taobao Maker Fest.
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Tokyo 2020 might have been postponed to next year, but Alibaba Group is keeping China’s sports fans excited with new and interactive Olympic Games content across its apps. For the first time, the International Olympic Committee leveraged Tmall’s Flagship Store 2.0 technology to launch a dedicated game for Tokyo 2020, themed around the sporting event and the cultural heritage and landmarks of host country Japan. The interactive game – developed by Alibaba – appeared in the IOC’s flagship store from July 23-27 via a “Brand Zone” pop-up feature that users could drag down to access special pages of content. Players who successfully unlocked all three levels of the game had a chance to win perks from Alibaba, including tickets to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 as well as flights and accommodations to watch the Olympic Games next year. Five of the IOC’s Worldwide Olympic Partners – Coca-Cola, Bridgestone, Panasonic, P&G and Samsung – also released the game in their Tmall flagship stores and offered prizes of their own, such as Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip foldable smartphone, to build up excitement for Tokyo 2020.
WATCH: An interactive Tokyo 2020 game launches on Tmall
In January 2017, Alibaba entered a partnership with the IOC to become a worldwide sponsor of the Olympic Games through 2028. As the official partner of cloud and e-commerce platform services, Alibaba said it was committed to helping the IOC transform how fans engage with the Games year-round and upgrade the largest sporting event’s cloud-computing technology and spectator experience for the digital era. On Thursday, Alibaba Cloud shared that it had supported the launch of Le Club Paris 2024, a new interactive website aimed at engaging fans for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
The Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, a philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation, announced this week that it had shortlisted the top 50 finalists for this year’s Africa’s Business Heroes competition. Selected from more than 22,000 applicants hailing from all 54 African continents, the finalists represent 18 sectors, from agriculture and education to artificial intelligence and e-commerce. The group is also 50% female and boasts a 32% francophone makeup in the first year that the competition has accepted applications in French. The top 50 will advance to the competition’s second-round selections and will have a chance to make it to the semifinal pitch in September, which will determine the top 10 finalists. The winners will be awarded a combined $1.5 million in grant funding at the grand finale later this year.
The Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund on Tuesday kicked off the registration process for its annual Jumpstarter Global Pitch Competition. Similar to previous editions, this year’s contest gives entrepreneurs a platform to showcase their business ideas and creativity as well as an opportunity to win up to $1 million in investment commitments and entry into Alibaba Group’s eFounders Fellowship program. Awards for innovation, social impact and women and entrepreneurship will also be introduced to Jumpstarter for the first time during this edition of Jumpstarter. Click here to read more.
Alibaba on Thursday kicked off its fifth annual Taobao Maker Festival. This year’s festival is themed around “New Blood” and aims to recognize emerging creative talents and encourage younger generations of makers and innovators to join the platform. While most activities are taking place online this year, the event also debuted a moving truck exhibition that will tour Hangzhou, Chengdu, Xi’an and Wuhan, and showcase products made by young Taobao merchants from those cities. To further engage consumers, the festival will also launch a virtual exhibition-touring experience from Aug. 10-14 on the Taobao Mobile app that includes interactive and gamified features, such as allowing users to earn “Taobao coins” that can be redeemed as discounts on purchases. According to TMF’s organizers, the platform will introduce new measures to support popular makers and young entrepreneurs with year-round support, including prominent placements on Taobao, to help them continue to build their businesses and innovate. To learn more about this year’s festival, click here.
Singer-turned-entrepreneur Victoria Beckham launched her eponymous beauty line on Alibaba Group’s cross-border e-commerce platform Tmall Global this week, marking the brand’s first foray into the China market. To celebrate the launch, the brand created an exclusive Power Glow set for Chinese consumers. Beckham also appeared in a live webcast with China’s top livestream host, Viya, and sold over RMB1 million ($143,030) of beauty products in five minutes. Click here to learn more about the brand’s launch.
Alibaba Group ranked seventh in Fast Company’s list of 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators 2020. The list recognizes companies that are “encouraging bold experimentation, not just from the C-suite or engineering groups but from every level of the organization” and referenced Alibaba’s retail innovation division, Tmall Innovation Center. Listen to our Alicast episode with Harvard Business School Executive-in-Residence Daniel O’Connor to learn more about TMIC.