Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma.
Photograph by Hong jianpeng — Imaginechina/AP
By John Kell
May 7, 2015

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s rapid growth will soon be steered by a new CEO.

The company said current Chief Operating Officer Daniel Zhang will become chief executive starting this Sunday.

“Daniel is a proven international business leader and innovator with a strong track record of delivering results,” Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma said in a statement on Thursday. He added there is “no better person to lead Alibaba Group as we embark on the next stage of our growth.”

Zhang has served as Alibaba’s (BABA) COO since September 2013, although he has held other management positions in his eight years at the company. Before joining Alibaba, Zhang was CFO at online game developer Shanda Interactive (GAME) for two years. Zhang takes the reins from current CEO Jonathan Lu, an executive that succeeded Ma as CEO just two years ago.

The change at the top of Alibaba’s leadership comes roughly eight months after the e-commerce company’s splashy debut on the U.S. stock market. Shares on the first day of trading soared 38% and settled at $93.89, giving the company a market capitalization of over $231 billion at the time.

But the stock, which traded near $120 per share in November, has spent most of its time in decline. Shares are below the opening trading price, even after factoring in the roughly 10% gain this Thursday morning as Alibaba also reported quarterly results that exceeded Wall Street’s expectations. The stock is worth about $88.50 in premarket trading.

Alibaba’s, essentially China’s version of eBay, is facing some challenges at home as the economy is projected to report slowing growth and as more consumers turn to mobile shopping, a trend that hurts advertising revenue. Meanwhile, efforts to seek growth outside China haven’t yet gained traction.

Still, Alibaba is rapidly growing. Revenue for the first three months of the year soared 45% to $2.81 billion.


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