Alibaba takes €1.2m punt on Irish startup
The Chinese technology giant Alibaba has made its first investment in Ireland, with a €1.2m bet on the Dublin-based software startup Showtime Analytics.
The startup, founded by Richie Power, Joe Spurling and Paul Lynch, provides data analytics products and services to the global cinema industry. Since its inception in 2014, it has grown to 30 employees.
The investment, made through Alibaba's film production company Alibaba Pictures, will see the Dublin firm develop software analytics products for the Chinese cinema industry.
Alibaba Pictures is China's biggest movie production company, valued at over €9bn. Its activities range from production to distribution and ticketing.
Mr Spurling's family co-owns the Irish cinema chain Movies@ with multiplexes in Dundrum, Swords and Gorey. "Data analysis is in its infancy in the movie industry, but its potential value is huge," said Mr Spurling.
"In recent years, video-on-demand has stolen a significant march on the cinema industry as the likes of Netflix knows more about its customers and are using this to their advantage. We want to help cinema owners and film distributors to unlock the potential of their data and help them understand more about the types of films being made, how they're being made and marketed, and how audiences are responding to them."
Earlier this year Alibaba Pictures acquired a minority stake in Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners. It has previously invested in major Hollywood blockbusters, including 'Star Trek Beyond' and 'Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation'. By the end of this year, China is expected to overtake the US as the world's largest movie market. The €1.2m investment is only Alibaba Pictures' second investment outside China and the first by its subsidiary, Yueke/Finixx.