Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on Wednesday announced the launch of an India-specific content platform -- We-Media Reward Plan 2 -- with an initial investment of Rs 5 crore, as part of its plan to invest Rs 200 crore over the next two years to drive content distribution in the country.
The announcement was made in New Delhi by Alibaba Mobile Business Group President He Xiaopeng, the co-founder of UCWeb, the mobile internet software and services business of Alibaba that has launched the India content drive.
"UC News, launched in June last year, has become one of the fastest growing apps in the country with a Monthly Active Users (MAUs) count of over 80 million in India," he said.
"According to our data, there are already at least 400,000 self-publishers in India, with a huge scope for growth in the market, especially in the niche categories," he said.
"The investment falls under Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group's targeted investment of $7.2 billion in content over the next three years," he added.
Under the UC We-Media programme, people get an opportunity to create, write, share thoughts and engage with their followers on UC News, the company said in a statement.
Under the We-Media Reward Plan, 1,000 content writers will be recruited in India and Indonesia who will be able to earn at least Rs 50,000 per month through the UC News platform.
Speaking to reporters later, he said that after six years of UCWeb in India, Alibaba has a "lot of confidence in the Indian market."
"Our content strategy will take us far in India. Today (Wednesday), with all our founding executive members gathered here, we are celebrating the wisdom of having chosen India as our first Asian destination for overseas expansion," he said.
In June 2014, UCWeb was integrated into the Alibaba Group in China's biggest internet acquisition. It is hoping to emerge as the largest content generation and service platform in India in 2017.
He emphasised that UCWeb's strength lies in the "organisation, distribution and commercialisation" of content.
"We will not generate content on our own but we will encourage people to post their content on We-Media. With the use of Big Data, artificial intelligence, we will help contributors in improving their content and reaching out to right target audience," he said.
UCWeb is also upgrading content by adding more short videos, which are fast becoming most popular type of content in China, and for which the company sees huge potential in India as well.
UC News is a content distributor, serving as a source of trending and curated news content covering all categories popular with Indian mobile users, with featured channels including news, cricket, technology, entertainment, movies, lifestyle, health and others.
UC News processes millions of data request and content of massive origins everyday with the help of its three big data clusters set-up in India.
He also pointed out that the Alibaba Group had already entered the e-commerce and digital payments space in India through its investment in Paytm.
According to a filing with the registrar of companies last week, Alibaba's Singapore unit will invest $177 million in Paytm E-Commerce.