Home Finance Alibaba founders Jack Ma, Joe Tsai appear in Hangzhou in show of confidence amid corporate reshuffling

Alibaba founders Jack Ma, Joe Tsai appear in Hangzhou in show of confidence amid corporate reshuffling

by CoinNews

Founding team members of Alibaba Group Holding converged in Hangzhou on Tuesday, as China’s largest e-commerce firm showed a united front after its CEO and chairman announced plans to step aside to focus on the cloud business.

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma and current CEO and chairman Daniel Zhang Yong appeared together at the office of Alibaba Cloud, which Zhang also heads. In photos and videos of the event, the two smiled while chatting over drinks and walking through the company’s campus. Ma, who no longer holds any corporate roles at Alibaba, has spent much of the past year overseas, largely in Japan, according to reports.

Alibaba Cloud did not respond to requests for comment. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

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Joseph Tsai, who is also a co-founder and set to take over for Zhang as chairman, also showed up at the Hangzhou headquarters of Cainiao Network, Alibaba’s logistics arm for which Tsai is currently chairman. Cainiao confirmed the visit. Tsai is chairman of the Post.

Joseph Tsai (left), who is chairman of Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao Network, visited Cainiao headquarters in Hangzhou on Tuesday. Photo: Handout alt=Joseph Tsai (left), who is chairman of Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao Network, visited Cainiao headquarters in Hangzhou on Tuesday. Photo: Handout>

Zhang is preparing to step aside as CEO and chairman, positions he has held for eight and four years, respectively, amid a massive corporate restructuring that will see Alibaba split into six independently run entities. The groups are free to pursue their own fundraising, including through initial public offerings, which Alibaba Cloud is in the process of doing under Zhang’s leadership.

Through the leadership reshuffling, long-time associates of Ma, 58, are returning to top corporate roles at the tech giant.

“We see many former veterans returning to the frontline … which means Alibaba has made major adjustments after Jack Ma’s return,” said Cao Lei, director of e-commerce research institute 100ec.

“Alibaba’s latest market value is just two-fifths of its highest level,” he said. “Tsai needs to do better in its market value management, and continue to tell the story that Alibaba is a technology company.”

Tsai, who joined Alibaba when it was founded in 1999, was appointed in May as chairman of Cainiao. Alibaba established the logistics business in 2013, and it aims to complete an IPO in the next 12 to 18 months, according to the company.

Tsai is also on the board of Taobao & Tmall Group, the only unit over which Alibaba will maintain exclusive ownership. Eddie Wu Yongming, an associate of Ma’s from before Alibaba was incorporated, is chairman of the group and will succeed Zhang as Alibaba Group CEO. Tsai has board seats with Alibaba’s local services unit and international e-commerce group, as well.

When he takes the reins as chairman in the autumn, Tsai will be returning to managing the company he helped start for the first time since leaving as head of strategic investment in 2019. Tsai previously served as Alibaba’s chief financial officer until 2013. More recently, he turned his attention to sports with his 2018 acquisition of the Brooklyn Nets, a National Basketball Association team in New York.

“Alibaba is likely to be transformed into a financial holding company, just like the direction taken by many large consortiums in the past,” said Zhang Yi, chief executive of Guangzhou-based iiMedia Research. “Tsai’s main career has been related to finance and strategic investment, so his ability and experience would fit well in the new stage.”

Recent moves by the company are geared towards reviving Alibaba’s competitiveness, about which Ma has expressed concern. In May, he appeared at an informal meeting with executives in Hangzhou to urge the tech giant to refocus its efforts on Taobao to weather increasing competition and economic headwinds. He cited mobile phone maker Nokia and film giant Kodak as examples of how quickly fortunes can turn for a brand.

Since Chinese tech giants have emerged from an industry crackdown by Beijing that spanned more than a year, the country’s star entrepreneurs have started to reappear in public and, in some cases, reassert control over their empires.

Richard Liu Qiangdong – founder of JD.com, Alibaba’s biggest e-commerce rival – was maintaining a low profile until late last year, when he criticised his company’s senior leadership for poor performance. Most recently, he appeared at a ceremony on June 18 celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary, according to Chinese media reports.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2023 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2023. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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