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Meet Alibaba's New CEO and Chairman

Meet Alibaba's New CEO and Chairman

  Alibaba Group operates Taobao and Tmall as two of China's primary ecommerce marketplaces and dominate cloud computing and digital payment platforms in China, but recently, this firm has come under heavy pressure from Beijing due to a series of restrictions placed upon it by government authorities. As part of its restructuring plan, Alibaba Group Holding Limited has appointed Joseph Tsai Chairman and Zhang CEO; Wu will co-lead Alibaba's ecommerce and cloud computing groups concurrently. Jack Ma Ma co-founded Alibaba in 1995 after encountering the Internet on a trip to America with his wife. Wanting to help small businesses use the web more effectively in China, but most Web sites only offered consumer services and didn't allow B2B transactions he sought solutions by founding Alibaba and Taobao which matched buyers with sellers. When eBay began expanding in China he asked his team members to dress in Army uniforms and announce "War on eBay". Alibaba expanded into financial services like WeChat Pay and AliPay as well as cloud computing, but their main focus remains retail and e-commerce, investing heavily into bricks-and-mortar retailers such as Suning department store chain with major investments of $4 billion and showing their ambition to broaden beyond online shopping and payments. Ma has used his influence to champion social causes, particularly environmental protection. He is particularly invested in conservation efforts and serves as a member of The Nature Conservancy board. More recently, Ma has started raising alarm bells regarding China's rapidly developing industrial economy with its emphasis on manufacturing and its adverse environmental consequences. Ma is an active philanthropist who has given generously to various causes and organizations. Additionally, he has made notable efforts towards underserved children through education work in Hangzhou in southeastern China. Ma stepped down as CEO in 2013 and retired from his chairman position this year, giving the reins to his hand-selected successor. Ma plans to devote more time and resources toward education and environmental causes philanthropy; his latest initiative aimed at helping young people learn computer science and coding was already awarded more than $1 billion by him alone! Many have hailed Ma's successor's abilities; however some speculate it could negatively affect retail business. Daniel Zhang Zhang first joined Alibaba as CEO in 2015 and later took over chairmanship from co-founder Jack Ma in 2019. He quickly made an impressionful mark as founder of Singles Day shopping festival and shifting the company away from online-only retail to physical storefronts. Zhang took on Jack Ma's chairmanship role later that same year. He led Alibaba through a major restructuring in March that saw them split into six entities with individual initial public offering strategies. This move is intended to inject fresh competitive strength into an organization which has been experiencing increasing pressure from competitors and economic constraints in recent months. Alibaba announced Joseph Tsai, currently executive vice chairman, will replace Zhang as chairman, while Eddie Wu will become CEO. Alibaba will maintain ownership of their core China-facing e-commerce businesses; however, its cloud unit has been approved for spin off and public listing shortly thereafter. This announcement follows increased scrutiny of China's e-commerce giants as authorities crack down on fraudulent practices and data breaches, as well as increased consumer concerns regarding data privacy and security. Alibaba Group Holding has faced widespread backlash from consumers concerned with privacy. Zhang explained to staff, in an internal memo seen by Reuters, that now was an appropriate time for him to make the change. From a governance perspective, they required "clear separation between board and management team as Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Group continues its journey toward becoming an independent public company," Zhang wrote. Alibaba's cloud business is one of its core assets, accounting for an impressive portion of overall value and contributing significantly to revenue, with both expected to see significant increases over time. By restructuring, concerns could be eased that Alibaba's cloud unit was becoming too closely related to e-commerce divisions - something regulators may view negatively. Investors who were worried about potential dilution from planned initial public offerings (IPOs) and external fundraising for certain units that must share profits with Alibaba through stock dividends will likely welcome this restructuring as it reduces dilution risk. Eddie Wu Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce and technology giant, announced Tuesday that Joseph Tsai would be elevated to chairman and Eddie Wu would take on his former e-commerce division CEO role as chief executive. Both individuals have long served the company since its formation in 1999; Tsai became executive vice chairman before serving as chairman himself; Wu has held many leadership roles during that time, including chairmanships of Taobao Group and Tmall Group platforms as well as being named CTO at various business units, such as Alipay and Health. Alibaba has recently made efforts to revive its growth. Last month, they unveiled plans to restructure their business into six separate entities that can raise capital through initial public offerings (IPOs). This plan aims to help Alibaba compete more effectively within an increasingly crowded and competitive technology industry. Analysts note that Alibaba could benefit from having new leadership that could rejuvenate its growth, though analysts caution this move could prove risky and controversial in China, where some believe it might signal further restrictions against technology industry growth. Zhang has been at Alibaba for two decades and is considered a close associate of founder Jack Ma. In 2015 he was appointed Chief Executive and became Chairman in 2019. Since giving a controversial speech criticizing Chinese regulatory and financial systems late last year that led to government actions against tech startups he has mostly kept out of public view. Ma and his fellow co-founders of Alibaba created their company on a firm belief that the internet held immense commercial potential, which proved true as Alibaba became one of the world's leading online marketplaces. But as China's economy slows and its tech ecosystem comes under scrutiny, Alibaba must quickly pivot and adjust its strategy in response. Joseph Tsai Yale law school graduate Tsai joined Alibaba in 1999, helping revolutionize e-commerce. Today he owns about 6 percent of the company and serves as one of its foremost financial strategists - responsible for investment strategy and negotiations with major investors like Yahoo and Japan's Softbank as well as helping set up their financial and legal structures. Tsai may not be as well-known to the general public, but he's one of Asia's wealthiest individuals with an estimated net worth of over $11.3 billion. Born in Taipei and raised in America where he attended Lawrenceville School - an expensive private boarding school in Connecticut - before going on to Yale University for further study where he obtained both a law degree and MBA in finance. Tsai currently serves as executive vice chairman for Alibaba and will assume his current roles upon Zhang's retirement, signaling "e-commerce's unwavering importance in Alibaba's future roadmap". The company says this move marks an "unexpected yet natural transition." Wu has held various roles at Alibaba since its establishment in 1999, including chief technology officer since that date and chairman of Taobao and Tmall marketplaces. Additionally, he founded Vision Plus Capital as a venture capital firm dedicated to investing in advanced technologies and enterprise services; Vision Plus also invests in advanced technologies as enterprise services are developed further. Wu has been an integral member of Alibaba for two decades focusing on business development as well as investing in new technology investments, according to company reports. Tsai will play an active role in encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs as they build vibrant communities. He'll oversee Alibaba's efforts to help more small businesses and farmers, while also encouraging innovation and collaboration. China is currently facing economic headwinds and Alibaba is suffering due to reduced consumer spending following a COVID-19 scare. This makes this aspect of their strategy even more crucial. Reshuffle of leadership at Alibaba is part of their massive restructuring plan that will see it divided into six independent entities with their own boards and CEOs, which will enable each business to raise capital independently through initial public offerings (IPOs). This process should be finished up by September.

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