Alibaba CEO steps down amid reshuffle

Alibaba has named a new chairman and new CEO in the latest update to the tech giant’s ongoing structural overhaul first announced in March.

Daniel Zhang Yong, who has been chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group since 2015, will be stepping down to focus on Ali Cloud, one of Alibaba’s six new subdivisions. As of September, he will serve solely as CEO of Ali Cloud, with Joe Tsai taking over as chairman and Eddie Yongming Wu taking over as CEO.

Tsai co-founded Alibaba alongside Jack Ma and, after Ma, is the company’s second largest individual shareholder. He previously served as COO and has been on the company’s board since its formation. Wu is another co-founder and was reportedly instrumental in the monetisation of Taobao and Alipay during his tenure as technology director.

This is the first major personnel reshuffle since Alibaba announced in March that it will be split into six new subdivisions, each with its own board and CEO. While Taobao and Tmall will remain wholly owned by Alibaba, the plan is for the other five subdivisions, which include AliCloud, to be spun off as independent companies. 

Investors interpreted the initial restructure plans as the official end to China’s tech crackdown and therefore a positive sign for China’s private sector.

After Alibaba founder Jack Ma delivered a speech in 2021 that criticised government regulatory bodies, the company became the focus of government scrutiny for over two years. During this period, the government blocked the IPO process of Alibaba affiliate Ant Group, which had raised the world’s largest ever valuation, and fined Alibaba 2.8 billion USD for anti-competitive practices. 

The news of Zhang Yong’s departure as Chairman and CEO came as a shock, with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s shares on the New York Stock Exchange down 4.53% on June 20, when the news first broke.

In a company-wide letter, Zhang told Alibaba employees, “The development of core technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and artificial intelligence will bring about huge changes in society, and will have strategic significance in future.”

He went on to declare his big ambitions for the Alibaba subsidiary he is heading, writing “I hope that Alibaba Cloud, as an independent company, can grow to be as big as today’s Alibaba Group, or even bigger than it.”

While serving as president of Tmall from 2011 to 2013, Zhang created Double 11 or “Single’s Day”, which then became China’s highest-grossing annual shopping event.


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