In late March, Daniel Zhang unveiled what was called “most significantOverhaul 24-year history of Alibaba, one of China’s core technology conglomerates, splitting the company into six separate units that will help them seek investors from the public.
Now Mr. Zhang, the tech giant’s chairman and chief executive, is out of the top job and will step down from Alibaba’s board of directors, and the company’s two co-founders have stepped into leadership positions.
Alibaba announced on Tuesday that Mr. Zhang, 51, would leave his top job in September. Instead, he will serve only as chief executive officer of Alibaba’s cloud computing division, a position he assumed in March. When he unveiled the reorganization. Alibaba announced plans to spin off its cloud division in May in preparation for a public listing.
Joseph Tsai, 59, Alibaba veteran with roots at company’s founding will step up from executive vice chairman President Alongside Mr. Tsai is another Alibaba co-founder, Eddie Yongming Wu, who will replace Mr. Zhang. chief executive.
“It’s kind of the old guard,” said Duncan Clarke, president of investment advisory firm BDA China in Beijing. “The reliable team, the old guard, are back in control.”
The reshuffle comes at a critical time for Alibaba. The company’s highest profile target was action by beijing On the power of China’s biggest tech companies. Its share price has fallen from its 2020 peak.
Alibaba’s founder, billionaire Jack Ma, was forced out of the public eye in 2020 after criticizing Chinese regulators for stifling innovation at Alibaba’s financial technology sister company, Ant Group. Following his remarks, Chinese authorities suspended plans for Ant Group to sell stock in an initial public offering. Chinese antitrust regulators to fine Alibaba in 2021 $2.8 billion To prevent merchants from selling their goods on other shopping platforms.
Mr. Ma, a popular figure in China and the tall face of the company, Alibaba made a publicized comeback in China earlier this year as it announced its restructuring, seen as a response to tighter regulations by Beijing.
On Saturday, Mr. Ma took part in a math competition sponsored by a research division of Alibaba, according to a Post Institute’s blog. Although he no longer plays a formal role at Alibaba, Mr. Ma is one of its largest shareholders, with 4.5 percent of the company through 2021, according to a corporate filing.
In a letter to employees on Tuesday, Mr. Zhang said it was time for him to devote his “full attention” to the spinoff plans. He also cited the need for a clear separation between his roles at Alibaba and the cloud division.
Mr. Tsai, the new chairman, has a relationship with Mr. Ma that some former employees have described as inseparable. The two met in 1999, when Alibaba was still a free online portal, and Mr. Tsai joined the company that year. He helped Mr. Ma secure early investments from Goldman Sachs and SoftBank and led the company’s initial public offering in New York in 2014, which was then the largest in history.
Mr. Tsai, the executive vice chairman of Alibaba since 2013, is the primary owner of the Brooklyn Nets, a National Basketball Association team.
The promotion of Mr. Wu, a longtime executive of Alibaba’s e-commerce division, signals to analysts that Alibaba will continue to prioritize online shopping as a core pillar of its business.
Mr Wu, who is in his late 40s, helped transform Alibaba from an e-commerce giant into a mobile juggernaut by turning digital payments app Alipay into one of the default forms of payment across China. He will continue to serve as chairman of Taobao and Tmall, Alibaba’s two domestic e-commerce businesses.
Mr. Zhang told investors that Alibaba would become less centralized and more efficient by separating its components. But Alibaba also recently announced the creation of a high-level committee to decide how to distribute the money to the new business groups, which some analysts took as a sign that the company is still Keeping power in the hands of a few prominent people.
Mr. Zhang replaced Mr. Ma as Alibaba’s chairman in 2019. then a rising star in the company, he was the architect behind singles Day, Alibaba’s most successful shopping event. Mr. Zhang, known for his attention to detail and problem-solving abilities, was widely regarded as a complement to Mr. Ma, who was known for his visionary power within the company.
Alibaba is synonymous with online shopping in China. But the company has since expanded into a range of businesses from digital payments to delivery services to entertainment. In recent years, it has expanded its e-commerce division and served the AI boom with its cloud computing unit.
Jacob Cook, chief executive of e-commerce consultancy WPIC, said the return of Mr Tsai, who has extensive investments around the world, was a logical choice for Alibaba given its recent international focus.
Last year, Alibaba invested $1.6 billion in its e-commerce business in Southeast Asia, according to corporate records in Singapore provided by VentureCap Insights, a research firm. And last week, it announced plans to launch a localized version of its e-commerce division, Tmall, in Europe.