Alibaba Cloud invests US$1m to support APAC startups and developers

Alibaba Group’s cloud computing subsidiary, Alibaba Cloud, is investing US$1 million to cultivate a million-strong digital talent pool, empower 100,000 developers and the growth of 100,000 technology startups in Asia Pacific over the next three years. The investment is part of its Project AsiaForward which comes under Alibaba Cloud's strategy to invest in infrastructure, technological innovation and talent development to contribute to local economic growth through digital transformation.

In Malaysia, Alibaba Cloud will partner with Handsprofit to build its first international innovation centre, offering Malaysian SMEs, startups and developers a one-stop innovation enablement platform. Various cloud technology and business leadership trainings will also be offered through the platform, as well as the nurturing of an ecosystem for venture capital networking. In Indonesia, the company launched its third data centre in the country with offerings across database, security, network, machine learning and data analytics services. Alibaba Cloud said the additional centre allows it to better support local businesses interested in adopting cloud technology and advance Indonesia’s push for a digital society. According to the company, it currently operates 75 availability zones in 24 regions worldwide.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the company plans to launch its first data centre by the end of 2021, signalling its continued support for the digitalisation of local businesses through a variety of products and services including elastic compute service, database, global network solution, content delivery network and storage services. This investment is the latest in Alibaba Cloud’s growing commitment in the country, focusing on the banking, fintech, retail, logistics and education sectors, among others.

At the same time, it has also kicked off the DigiTalents Forward programme in Singapore with the School of Computer Science and Engineering, and NTU-Alibaba Singapore Joint Research Institute at the Nanyang Technological University. The parties are also planning to launch a variety of AI courses under NTU’s MiniMasters programme.

The DigiTalents Forward programme is one of the three core programmes under Alibaba Cloud's Project AsiaForward, with the other two being AI Forward, and DigiEntrepreneurs Forward. These programmes focus on digital upskilling, targeting developers, and aimed at connecting promising business ideas with venture capital and real-life opportunities respectively. 

Jeff Zhang, president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, said it is seeing strong demand for cloud-native technologies in emerging verticals across the region, from eCommerce and logistics platforms to fintech and online entertainment. He explained that the company’s focus on innovation, data centre investments and talent development is in anticipation of a digital-first future. Therefore, it is committed to bettering the region’s cloud ecosystem and enhancing its digital infrastructure.    

During the full fiscal year ended March 2021, Alibaba Group said it achieved strong organic revenue growth of 32% to US$109,480 million. This was driven by the performance of its core commerce businesses and the continued growth of Alibaba Cloud, which was formed in 2009. In that period, its cloud computing revenue grew 50% year-on-year to US$9,176 million, mainly driven by growth in revenue from customers in the Internet, public sector and finance industries. In the March 2021 quarter, cloud computing revenue grew 37% year-on-year to US$2,558 million.

Recently, Alibaba formed a partnership with Brightcove to create the Brightcove China Delivery via Alibaba Cloud solution last month in May. According to Brightcove, the partnership makes it the first video provider to enable on-demand video streaming into the nation, allowing customers to execute a single video distribution strategy worldwide. Meanwhile, Alibaba Group was slapped with a US$2.8 billion antitrust fine imposed by China's State Administration for Market Regulation, after it was requested to divest its media assets by the Chinese government a month earlier in March. 

Executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai, however, said previously that it will operate in accordance with the law and continue to strengthen compliance systems and build on growth through innovation. The company also said in a statement that it accepts the penalty "with sincerity" and will ensure the group's compliance "with determination".

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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