e-Commerce Giant Alibaba Announces Major Management Reorganization

On Monday, e-commerce giant Alibaba announced that it was assigning roles (both existing and newly-formed) to some of its executives in what is being described as one of the biggest reshufflings of roles in recent history.

As announced by the company, the company’s former chief financial officer Maggie Wu will step down in April next year and will be replaced by Toby Xu who is Alibaba’s incumbent deputy chief financial officer. Maggie Wu isn’t going anywhere; he will continue to be a partner in the company’s Partnership. Alibaba Partnership is an exclusive group of personnel with major influence on the company’s directions. Maggie Wu will also remain in the company as an executive director on the company’s board.

Maggie Wu has had a jolly ride with Alibaba and is undeniably an important part of the company since he first joined the company fifteen years ago. He played important roles in Alibaba’s three public listings – Alibaba’s business-to-business marketplace on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 20027, Alibaba Group Holding on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2019. The e-commerce giant remains one of the US-listed Chinese firms that have pursued secondary listings in Hong Kong amid rising tensions between the US and China.

In a statement, Maggie Wu said that “The announcement of Alibaba’s CFO transition today is the culmination of extensive preparation over many years and a part of Alibaba’s leadership succession planning. The markets will always have ups and downs, but Alibaba has ambitious long-term goals. We are in a relay race and we must have new generations of talent to take the company forward. I trust Toby even more than I trusted myself when I first took up the CFO position years ago”.

Alibaba, founded 22 years ago in 1999, went through its first major reorganization after founder Jack Ma passed on the role of CEO to Daniel Zhang in 2015, and later appointed him as the company’s chairman in 2019.

Toby Xu, Maggie Wu’s replacement, has overseen many of Alibaba’s major deals, including its partnership with Starbucks in China. He joined Alibaba in 2018 and worked previously at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).  

An internal letter by Daniel Zhang also revealed that alongside the CFO succession, other reorganization focused on the company’s domestic and international e-commerce business will be made.

Jiang Fan will lead the company newly-established International Digital Commerce which includes Southeast Asia-focused Lazada which Alibaba took control of in 2016. Jiang Fan, for years, has helped steer the company’s core revenue drivers and push the company to greater heights. “We will continue to focus on becoming a truly globalized company, and we believe that overseas markets present many exciting potential and opportunities for us to capture”, CEO Daniel Zhang wrote in his letter.

Alibaba also announced that its domestic consumer-oriented and wholesale marketplace will be merged to form the new China Digital Commerce unit which will be placed in the care of Trudy Dai who has been one of the many people pushing Alibaba’s new growth drivers –Taobao, Alibaba’s bazaar which targets low-income earners, and neighbourhood grocery service Taocaicai.

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