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Jack Ma asks Alibaba to ‘change’ and praises PDD

Tan KW
Publish date: Thu, 30 Nov 2023, 11:21 AM
Tan KW
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Beijing: Jack Ma urged Alibaba staff to take a page from hard-charging rival PDD Holdings Inc in a surprise internal memo, in which the billionaire called on the company he co-founded decades ago to embark on fundamental change.

Ma, who has mostly stayed away from day-to-day operations since 2020, stunned employees yesterday by replying to a staff post on Alibaba’s internal forum.

In his brief message, the entrepreneur praised PDD’s decisions in past years.

But Ma was convinced Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will change and “correct its course,” he said in a post confirmed by people familiar with the forum.

“Every great company is born in a winter,” the billionaire wrote. “As the artificial intelligence era gets underway, it’s an opportunity for everyone as well as a challenge.”

Ma’s missive comes as Alibaba navigates turmoil both internally and externally, where a weaker-than-anticipated economic recovery and up-and-coming rivals such as PDD and ByteDance Ltd are undermining its once-dominant eCommerce business.

An Alibaba representative didn’t immediately respond to a call and message seeking comment.

The company this year has undergone a series of internal upheavals, starting with the announcement of a plan to break up the corporation into six smaller pieces.

Then-chief executive officer Daniel Zhang stepped down after the company brought in two longstanding Ma confidantes, Joseph Tsai and Eddie Wu, to run the company.

Months later, the pair announced they were shelving the much-anticipated spinoff and listing of its US$11bil cloud arm, a stunning about-face that called into question the company’s future direction.

 - Bloomberg

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