Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, makes a comeback with admiration for ‘changes’

Alibaba founder Jack Ma on Wednesday praised the company’s reorganization and change over its tumultuous past year, marking the billionaire’s second major public statement to employees in just a few months. In the past year, Alibaba underwent a historic overhaul and sweeping management changes in a bid to return the Chinese technology giant to growth. Ma all but disappeared from public life at the end of 2020, after Chinese regulators pulled the plug on the massive listing of the founder’s financial affiliate Ant Group, sparking a crackdown on his empire.

Experts see the move as a signal that the Chinese government is softening its stance toward tech giants after a crackdown that began in late 2020. Alibaba, whose business spans everything from e-commerce to cloud computing, has seen billions of dollars wiped off of its value in the past few years, thanks to tougher regulation from Beijing and rising competition from competitors like PDD and TikTok owner ByteDance.

Last year, Alibaba underwent its biggest overhaul in its history, which split the company into six business groups in a bid to make each unit more agile. This was accompanied by sweeping management changes. Long-time CEO of Alibaba group Daniel Zhang unexpectedly quit and then stepped down as CEO of the company’s cloud unit. Alibaba veterans Eddie Yongming Wu took over as CEO, while Joe Tsai took the reins as chairman in September.

Ma is re-emerging at a time when Alibaba employees are likely in need of a morale boost. He praised both Tsai and Wu for their “future-oriented transformations.” The Alibaba founder also said Alibaba needs to think about what e-commerce looks like in three years’ time, especially since the arrival of artificial intelligence. Alibaba has since scrapped the initial public offerings of both its cloud division and Cainiao, its logistics unit.

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