Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang has taken direct control over the company’s cloud computing unit.
In a series of C-suite reshuffles announced late last year, Zhang is now the acting president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence and enterprise communications app DingTalk, while Jeff Zhang Jianfeng has stepped down as cloud business chief.
Alibaba said Zhang Jianfeng will focus on his role as head of the Alibaba DAMO Academy. He will also continue to be responsible for Alibaba’s proprietary chip development team T-Head and Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives.
“Over the past four years, Jeff has led the Alibaba Cloud Intelligence team to deliver outstanding results in technological innovation and industry influence,” CEO Zhang said in an internal email to staff announcing the executive appointments. “As the country enters a new stage of living with Covid and policymakers have given direction to the future development of the platform economy, we are more confident than ever that continued development is the key to solving the challenges we face today.”
While companies including Alibaba and Huawei regularly rotate executives into different business areas, the timing comes weeks after Alibaba suffered a major outage. A refrigeration failure at a data center operated by Vantage in Hong Kong last month led to outages for customers lasting up to 24 hours for some. Due to rising temperatures, a fire sprinkler system was triggered, delaying the restoration of operations.
In a letter from Zhang to staff at the cloud business unit, seen by the South China Morning Post (itself owned by Alibaba), the CEO said Alibaba Cloud could not afford to lose the confidence of its customers.
“Once the trust is gone, our clients will leave us,” he wrote. “A service breakdown might be a rare incident at Alibaba, with a low probability of 0.01 percent or even 0.0001 percent, but once it happens, it has 100 percent happened to our clients.”
“The [cloud] business is a lifeline for the company,” he continued. “Cloud is not only a business or a capability. It is the foundation on which other businesses grow … Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms, payments systems, and logistic systems cannot live without cloud.”
In other moves within Alibaba, Wu Zeming is now the company’s chief technology officer (CTO), succeeding Li Cheng.
Wu has worked on the mega shopping festival, 11.11, and Alibaba’s new retail initiative in senior technical capacities. He will continue to serve as the CTO of Alibaba’s Local Services division and has previously held several senior roles at Alibaba’s Ant Group.
“Over the past few years, Li Cheng has made important contributions to the advancement of Alibaba’s technology infrastructure, especially in our talent acquisition and development,” said CEO Zhang.
On April 1, 2023, Jane Jiang will succeed Judy Tong as Group Chief People Officer, a role she has held since 2017. Jiang is one of Alibaba’s 18 original co-founders.