New leader of Alibaba

    New leader of Alibaba



    Daniel Zhang, Alibaba's new leader, will have to grapple with the trade war, nimbler challengers, and not being Jack Ma. OZhang is the little-known 47-year-old with the unenviable task of stepping into the shoes of China's most famous businessman. On Sept. 10 he'll add the title of chairman at Alibaba after assuming the CEO role in 2015, and he'll be the first person since co-founder Jack Ma to hold both positions at the same time. Ma is a global figure known for hobnobbing with heads of state and for his fiery speeches at gatherings such as the World Economic Forum. Zhang is slight and soft-spoken, often proceeding haltingly in English during calls with investors. Even in China, he's largely unknown. At Alibaba headquarters, an employee's parent mistook him for the janitor. OYet in his understated way, Zhang is proving as radical as his predecessor. He says Alibaba is uniquely positioned to pull together the online and offline worlds in groceries and beyond, and dozens of his new initiatives are leading Alibaba deeper into fields including finance, health care, movies, and music. Especially in the U.S., where the company's shares trade, these efforts have baffled some investors, who worry about overreach. In Zhang's view, they're a matter of survival. "Every business has a life cycle," he says during an exclusive interview at Alibaba's Hangzhou headquarters. "If we don't kill our existing business, someone else will. So l'd rather see our own new businesses kill our existing business.

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