Alibaba and SoftBank launch joint-venture cloud company in Japan

The company will operate out of Tokyo, and will leverage Alibaba's cloud services and SoftBank's Japanese customer base.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba and Japanese telecommunications provider SoftBank have formed a joint-venture cloud services company called SB Cloud to bring Alibaba Cloud's technology and solutions to Japanese businesses.

SB Cloud will be headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo, and will open a datacentre to offer Alibaba's cloud security services, data storage, processing solutions, and middleware offerings.

In return, Alibaba will gain access to SoftBank's existing Japanese business customer base.

"We are proud that Alibaba Cloud can leverage its cloud computing expertise in the joint venture with SoftBank," said Sicheng Yu, vice president of Alibaba Cloud.

"We look forward to helping more Japanese companies grow their business with our secure, scalable, and innovative cloud computing services."

According to SB Cloud CEO Eric Gan, who also serves as executive vice president of SoftBank -- a major shareholder of Alibaba -- the companies had been working on the joint venture for several months prior to the announcement on Friday.

"I believe the JV team can develop the most advanced cloud platform for Japanese customers, as well as for multinational customers who want to use the resources we have available in Japan," Gan added.

Alibaba and SoftBank have previously collaborated on robotics, with Alibaba contributing $118 million to SoftBank Robotics Holdings in June last year.

Alibaba last month also launched its cloud startup scheme in Singapore, offering $10,000 in credit for certain startups, as well as help from Alibaba engineers to build cloud-enabled apps; dedicated IT support every six weeks for the first year; co-marketing and branding opportunities; and access to Alibaba's associated incubators, working spaces, funding, and industry partnerships, such as the Silicon Valley Association of Chinese Entrepreneurs and Hong Kong Science Park.

Alibaba operates a cloud datacentre in Singapore, which is also the international headquarters for its cloud business.

Last week, Alibaba announced revenue of 24 trillion yuan ($3.7 trillion) for the three months ended March 31, 2016, an increase of 39 percent year on year. Its cloud computing business grew its revenue by 175 percent year on year to more than 1 trillion yuan, recording 500,000 paying customers.

"Our focus on long-term strategic priorities -- globalisation, rural expansion, building a world-class cloud computing business, and creating a comprehensive media and entertainment platform -- has laid a strong foundation for future growth," Daniel Zhang, Alibaba Group CEO, said.

Alibaba last month acquired a $1 billion controlling stake in Southeast Asian ecommerce operator Lazada Group in order to increase its international presence; in February bought $101,224,000 in Groupon shares and $1.1 million in Weibo shares; and has spent $455 million in total on Singapore's telco and postal service SingPost.

SoftBank in March announced that it would be splitting its organisation into two separate entities for domestic operations and global operations by the end of the year.

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