Alibaba Appoints New Chairman, CEO in Fresh Management Shakeup

June 20, 2023

By Adedapo Adesanya

Chinese tech giant, Alibaba, has announced the appointment of its current executive vice chairman, Mr Joseph Tsai, as its new chairman and Mr Eddie Wu as the chief executive officer (CEO) from September 2023, replacing Mr Daniel Zhang, who holds both positions.

Mr Tsai is a co-founder of Alibaba, and Mr Wu is the chairman of the e-commerce unit, Taobao and Tmall Group.

Mr Zhang, after eight years as CEO, will continue to serve as the chairman and CEO of Alibaba’s cloud unit.

This is the second time Alibaba has undergone a major change in executive leadership in a few years after co-founder, Mr Jack Ma, stepped away in 2019. And it comes just months after the company announced its biggest restructuring in 24 years.

The company said in March that it was splitting into six separate units, including cloud, e-commerce, logistics, media, and entertainment. Each unit is now overseen by its own CEO and board directors, and most of them can pursue separate listings or fundraisings.

“This is the right time for me to make a transition, given the importance of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Group as it progresses towards a full spin-off,” Mr Zhang said in the announcement.

He added that the emergence of generative AI has opened up “exciting new opportunities” for the company’s cloud business.

“While our current transformation brings in a new corporate organizational and governance structure, Alibaba’s mission remains unchanged,” he said.

Mr Zhang said in a statement it was “the right time” for him to step down as the firm looks to implement a full spin-off of its advanced cloud computing unit.

Hangzhou-based Alibaba is one of China’s most prominent technology firms, with business operations spanning cloud computing, e-commerce, logistics, media and entertainment, and artificial intelligence.

The firm has faced several unprecedented headwinds in recent years as the Chinese government imposed tighter restrictions on the domestic tech sector.

Its co-founder, Mr Ma, criticised Chinese financial regulators in a public speech in late 2020, the Chinese government called off the blockbuster initial public offering (IPO) of Ant Group, the affiliate of Alibaba that owns Alipay, at the last minute.

The cancellation marked the start of a regulatory attack against the country’s internet industry and the private sector, during which regulators imposed a record fine of $2.8 billion on Alibaba Group for violating antitrust rules.

Since then, Mr Ma has largely disappeared from public view and retreated further from his companies. He has reportedly spent more time overseas, including in Hong Kong and Japan, home to his friend and Alibaba investor, SoftBank CEO, Mr Masa Son.

In March, he made a surprising public appearance in mainland China, days before Alibaba announced its major restructuring plan.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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