Tudou founder and former CEO Gary Wang cashed out of China’s biggest ever internet business deal last summer and then announced his retirement from the YouTube-like video company to chase “the next interesting dream.” It turns out that his next startup project will be quite different – an animation studio.
Aiming to be China’s Pixar, Wang told the WSJ, “I wouldn’t have done this five years ago, but now the time is right.” With improved copyright protection and a domestic movie market worth $2.74 billion last year, it seems the opportune moment for a Beijing-based animation studio to take on both Pixar and Dreamworks. China’s animation industry is fairly sizeable, but has yet to have a contemporary, big-name success either at home or overseas, and it’s mostly American and Japanese cartoon characters that catch the imagination of Chinese kids.
Wang’s new animation studio will open on April 1st, and reportedly has tens of millions of dollars in funding from a group of unnamed international investors. It’s not clear if his new venture will have an online business aspect, or will operate more like a conventional studio.
Whatever animated blockbusters he helps produce will find a big market in China – and one which is biased in favor of local production companies. Only a handful of foreign movies are permitted access to China’s growing (but still small) network of big-screen cinemas each year.
After managing Tudou – which is now part of the Youku Tudou company, running two of China’s top video-streaming sites – for seven years, Wang will know that licensing big-screen content to the country’s numerous video sites will be a big part of the success and profitability of the new studio.