May 16, 2019 05:16 PM

Exclusive: Elite New Committee to Chart Future Course at Alibaba

Alibaba has created a new 13-member economic steering committee as it prepares for Jack Ma's departure. Photo: VCG
Alibaba has created a new 13-member economic steering committee as it prepares for Jack Ma's departure. Photo: VCG

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has set up a 13-person committee to make and execute economic strategy for the e-commerce giant and its Ant Financial affiliate, as founder and internet mogul Jack Ma gets set to retire later this year, Caixin has learned.

Last year Ma announced he would retire on Sept. 10, 2019 from the company he co-founded two decades ago, passing the torch to the next generation of leaders led by current CEO Daniel Zhang. Ahead of that handover, the company initiated a series of management changes starting late last year.

The elite new committee’s formation — part of the broader overhaul — occurred in the first quarter of this year, several company sources told Caixin. It will include five sub-committees as well as several other divisions.

Alibaba CEO and soon-to-be chairman Daniel Zhang was named as the committee’s top leader, while Eric Jing, who heads the company’s Ant Financial affiliate, will be his deputy, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. That arrangement will allow Zhang to oversee not only Alibaba but also have an oversight role at Ant, which is valued at more than $150 billion and is widely expected to make an initial public offering in the next few years.

The new arrangement will allow Alibaba and Ant to form the core units of the company, with its newer cloud, entertainment and online-to-offline (O2O) services units acting in supporting roles, a senior executive at Ant Financial told Caixin.

“Alibaba’s top management will rotate throughout the various businesses, similar to the rotation among top officers in a military district,” the source said. He added that such a strategy will allow top officials to become familiar with the differing needs of the company’s different divisions, and to find synergies between them.

The ongoing overhaul has also included the recent wave of management reshuffling dating back to November, two months after Ma first announced his retirement. That reshuffling has also seen Alibaba start to identify younger executives that will make up its next generation of leaders.

One of the first moves saw Hu Xiaoming tapped in November to become the new president Ant Financial after spending three years at the helm of Alibaba Cloud, the company’s cloud computing unit.

One of the biggest moves came in March when Jiang Fan was made president of Tmall, one of Alibaba’s two main e-commerce sites. That added to his existing role as president of Taobao, the company’s other main e-commerce site, making him the first person to oversee the two crown jewels in the company’s e-commerce business.

That move, combined with the recent 13-member committee’s formation, will leave Daniel Zhang as head overseer for both Alibaba and Ant Financial, while Jiang will be the top man at Alibaba’s core e-commerce operations.

Despite his departure from day-to-day operations at Alibaba, Ma is most likely to continue exercising influence through his continued presence as a key member of a 38-person partnership that ultimately controls the company’s board.

Contact reporter Isabelle Li (

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