Alibaba’s Daniel Zhang announces surprise resignation from cloud group
Alibaba has announced that outgoing CEO Daniel Zhang will leave the company, in an unexpected move just months after reaffirming his commitment as president and CEO of the firm’s cloud intelligence group.
Following a corporate restructuring in March 2023, Alibaba is in the process of spinning off six of its divisions as separate business groups. In May, it confirmed its cloud intelligence group would spin off and become publicly listed by May 2024.
The announcement was made on 10 September, the same day that Eddie Wu, co-founder and SVP at Alibaba Group, took over as CEO.
Following Zhang’s unexpected departure, Wu is expected to oversee the cloud group in addition to his newfound responsibilities. Joe Tsai has taken over as chairman of Alibaba Group as planned.
In a letter to shareholders in July 2023, Zhang announced that although he would step down as chairman and CEO of the Alibaba Group, he would be staying on at the company to oversee its cloud group.
“As for myself, I will be fully dedicated to my role as chairman and chief executive officer of our cloud intelligence group and take on the new challenge of exploring the immense future in transforming and innovating with hundreds of thousands of industries through cloud computing, Big Data, and AI,” he wrote.
Alibaba Cloud announced price cuts of nearly 50% in April 2023, in a move to compete with cloud rivals such as Tencent and Huawei. The firm also announced it will invest $1 billion in cloud expansions across the APAC region.
In its Q4 earnings, Alibaba Group reported its Cloud Intelligence Group’s total revenue reached $3.47 billion, representing a 4% year-on-year growth.
The group made a number of investments over the past year into generative AI and Big Data, as well as into the expansion of its cloud computing services into the consumer market.
Across the quarter it integrated its latest large language model (LLM), Tongyi Qianwen, within its workspace collaboration platform DingTalk. The LLM can process Chinese and English language inputs, and performs similar roles to Microsoft 365 Copilot such as summarising meetings, drafting e-mails, or generating document outlines.
In a letter to the Hong Kong Exchange, the board of Alibaba Group paid tribute to Zhang’s record at the firm and expressed its intention to appoint a new management group for the Cloud Intelligence Group in time.
“The board of our Company expresses its deepest appreciation to Mr Zhang for his contributions to Alibaba Group over the past 16 years, including as chief executive officer since 2015 and as chairman since 2019, as well as his leadership of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Group since 2022,” it wrote.
Alibaba stock was down 3% on market opening, following the announcement.
Ⓒ Future Publishing