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Alibaba has new & younger CEO in charge


05-12-2015 01:33 BJT

Alibaba's leadership change -- is on everyone's lips.  This comes just nine months since the Chinese e-commerce firm’s mega-listing in New York. Cynics are questioning whether Alibaba’s making the right decisions for its stakeholders.

Meet the new chief executive of Chinese Internet e-commerce firm Alibaba – Daniel Zhang. The forty-three-year-old takes over from this week – ushering in what founder Jack Ma says represents a post-seventies generation of leaders that "will command the troops at Alibaba Group”.

The surprise changing of the guards at Alibaba triggered a rally in its shares in New York. But it reminded many of the challenges even an Internet behemoth faces – in a fast-changing tech industry. Paul Gillis is a professor at Peking University.

It was only two years ago to the day Jack Ma had announced he was stepping down from his chief executive role, appointing Jonathan Lu in his place. Mr. Ma said then of himself, he had grown too old to run a technology company.

Exactly two years on, Mr Lu steps down to give way to Mr Zhang, no more than a few years older than he. Zhang, who led the rise of the firm’s T-mall shopping site, is the key architect of Alibaba's annual Singles Day shopping event. Academics say Zhang’s biggest challenge is to resolve the fake good issue surrounding Alibaba.

For Porter Erisman, former vice-president at Alibaba and filmmaker of this documentary film of how Jack Ma grew his empire, he recalls, in his words how things were run at the firm.

But investors hardly understood that, says Erisman, who is invested in the sector and still holds some Alibaba shares.

Investors have had a roller-coaster ride since Alibaba's listing. Its shares are still at least 25 percent above their IPO price, but are now down 28 percent from their November high. News of the change at the top came on the same day it released results beating expectations, but with net profit falling 49 percent.

Alibaba’s challenge lies not only in keeping ahead of the competition, but in managing investors’ expectations as surprising as a leadership shuffle.




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