Hours after rumors began circulating in China about a possible resignation of Alibaba Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang, the e-commerce giant confirmed Tuesday noon that the executive will pass the torch.
Zhang will be replaced by Joe Tsai, the current executive vice president of Alibaba, as chairman, and Eddie Wu, current chairman of Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces, as CEO and board director.
Wu, who served as the chief architect of several of Alibaba’s technology platforms, is celebrated internally as spearheading the company’s transition to the mobile age by launching Taobao’s mobile app.
After the transition, which will take effect in September, Zhang will focus on leading Alibaba’s cloud intelligence group, which includes the company’s cloud computing business, great language model efforts and Dingtalk business messenger. The group was recently released as part of Alibaba’s pivotal reorganization split into six entities, some of which are pursuing independent IPOs.
Zhang’s transition, which was self-initiated and approved by Alibaba’s board, comes as no surprise given that the executive has led the cloud group as chairman and CEO for some time. .
Moreover, with the explosive growth of AI applications driven by new big language models, Alibaba’s cloud cluster is suddenly gaining renewed attention. In April, the company announcement plans to integrate its large language model Tongyi Qianwen into its family of businesses, such as business communication and e-commerce.
Alibaba’s cloud business generated $2.7 billion in revenue in the first quarter of this year, or 9% of its total revenue.