Is competition heating up in China’s cloud computing market? Aliyun enlists CEOs as spokespersons

Alibaba Cloud, also known as Aliyun, is a cloud computing company, a subsidiary of the Alibaba Group. On 8 July, Aliyun officially unveiled two new spokespersons: Yang Zhilin, founder of Moonshot AI (focused on AIGC), and Zhang Yuejia, president of Zhaopin (China’s leading human resources services company). The “The Cloud I Use is Aliyun” outdoor advert was simultaneously launched at Hangzhou Airport and Beijing Capital Airport.

Back in April, Aliyun introduced a wave of spokespersons, including Wang Xiaochuan, founder of Baichuan AI (develops and provides General AI services), Jiang Nanchun, founder of Focus Media (pioneered lift media globally), and Chen Xiangdong, founder of Gaotu (an online education organisation). The endorsement from such prominent figures underscores Aliyun’s leadership in cloud computing.

It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to endorse products. Linking a corporate brand with the image of its top leaders is a potent branding strategy that often resonates with consumers. Most entrepreneurs promote their own products, such as Ding Lei endorsing NetEase games, Lei Jun’s selfies with the Xiaomi Note, and Zhou Hongyi showcasing his 360 mobile phone to Tim Cook. Wang Shi of Vanke was one of the first Chinese entrepreneurs to engage in commercial endorsements, from Motorola mobile phones to China Mobile and Volkswagen Touareg.

According to Aliyun’s official introduction, since its inception in 2009, the company has aimed to make computing a public service to support agile innovation in enterprises. Aliyun now serves 5 million customers globally, including 38% (190) of the world’s top 500 companies, 80% of Chinese technology companies, and 65% of unicorn companies. Aliyun also serves 10 million developers.

In an effort to capture the cloud computing market, Aliyun invited Luo Yonghao to a Taobao livestream in March to sell “cloud” products, such as cloud servers, cloud storage, and enterprise network disks. The topic #Luo Yonghao Sells Cloud via livestreaming# (罗永浩将首次直播卖云) garnered 40.43 million views on Weibo. Jingdong Cloud followed suit, also selling products via livestreaming.

Recently, OpenAI informed some developers that it would cease providing API traffic to China and other regions from 9 July. Consequently, major model vendors have launched their migration solutions, including Aliyun, which promises to offer “the most cost-effective alternative to China’s Large Language Models”.

Aliyun’s battle for market share is clear. One notable characteristic of the cloud computing market is the “scale effect”, where the expansion of service scale allows the fixed costs of infrastructure investment to be spread over more users and data traffic, reducing the cost per user or unit of data. At the end of February this year, Aliyun held a strategic conference in Beijing, announcing significant price cuts across more than 100 products and over 500 product specifications. The prices on Aliyun’s official website saw an average reduction rate of over 20%, with some reductions as high as 55%. Clearly, Aliyun aims to capture as much of the market’s growth dividends as possible.


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