In a move reminiscent of the power transitions in Greek mythology, Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce titan, has announced a significant management reshuffle. This strategic restructuring into six different business divisions is designed to adapt to the rapid evolution of technologies, much like the Greek gods adapted to the changing tides of power and influence.
Eddie Wu, the current chairman of Alibaba’s e-commerce group, is set to succeed Daniel Zhang as CEO, echoing the mythological tale of Zeus succeeding his father Cronus as the king of the gods. Zhang, in turn, will ascend to the role of CEO and chairman of Alibaba’s cloud computing unit, which has been approved for a spin-off and is expected to be listed for trading within a year, marking a new era for the company.
Joseph Tsai, the current executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, will take up the mantle from Zhang as the group’s chairman. Tsai’s rise to power mirrors the ascension of Hermes, the messenger of the gods in Greek mythology, who was known for his cunning and shrewdness. Tsai, a Taiwan-born Canadian citizen, is a co-founder of Alibaba, owner of the NBA basketball team Brooklyn Nets, and chairman of the Alibaba-owned Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post.
Wu, who served as the company’s technology director at its inception in 1999, has also held positions as special assistant to Alibaba’s co-founder and former board chairman Jack Ma, much like Hephaestus, the Greek god of technology, served under Zeus. Wu’s roles have included CTO of Alibaba’s digital wallet business Alipay and chairman of Alibaba Health.
The restructuring will allow five of Alibaba’s six business divisions, excluding the core e-commerce business, to raise outside capital and go public, a move that echoes the division of the world among Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. The changes will take effect on September 10.
Zhang, who became Alibaba Group’s CEO in 2015 and succeeded Ma as chairman in 2019, is known for creating the Singles’ Day shopping festival, which has grown over the years to become the world’s largest online shopping extravaganza, much like the grand feasts held on Mount Olympus.
Alibaba’s Hong Kong shares were down about 1.5% Tuesday afternoon following the news. The company has come under scrutiny by the Chinese government in recent years amid a crackdown on the technology industry. Ma, the firm’s best known co-founder and once China’s richest man, has kept a low profile with few public appearances after he publicly criticized China’s regulators and financial systems during a speech in Shanghai in October 2020, much like Prometheus who defied the gods and was punished for it.
In March, Ma returned to mainland China after being reportedly sighted in Europe, Japan, Thailand, and Hong Kong over the past few years. His itinerary has been closely watched as a barometer of Beijing’s attitude towards private businesses. He is currently a visiting professor at the University of Tokyo until October 31, with his research described as “sustainable agriculture and food production,” perhaps a nod to Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture.
Source: Yahoo FInance