| HONG KONG
HONG KONG Jan 16 Jack Ma will step down in four
months as CEO of China's privately held Internet giant Alibaba
Group, but industry analysts say he will still be the invisible
hand behind day-to-day operations as executive chairman.
The Internet entrepreneur, 48, in his letter to employees on
Tuesday informing them of his decision, did not identify a
successor. Ma did say the next generation of Alibaba executives
are in a good position to oversee the e-commerce empire which he
founded 14 years ago.
"Clearly, Alibaba is trying to transform beyond being an
e-commerce company," said Michael Clenedin, managing director at
technology consultants RedTech Advisors in Shanghai.
"So if Ma wants to do that, and he wants to get into social
networking, launch a mobile operating system, or if he wants to
get into online music, he needs to play a more strategic role,
and I think that's what he'll do as chairman," Clenedin said.
Alibaba could also implement a rotating CEO system similar
to the structure in place at Huawei Technologies Co Ltd
, the world's No.2 telecom equipment maker, where a
handful of top executives do the job for six months at a time.
Below are short biographies of senior Alibaba executives
that analysts and industry observers say could be in the running
to take over Ma as Alibaba's CEO:
JONATHAN LU ZHAOXI
Lu, who joined Alibaba Group in 2000, is the chief data
officer and executive vice president. He is also at the helm of
three of Alibaba's 25 business units, including the mobile cloud
operating system unit.
In September 2004, he led a team in setting up Alibaba's
online payment system Alipay and served as its president. In
January 2008, he moved to Taobao, comprising the group's
business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer online platforms,
and was chief executive officer there in January 2010.
He was chief executive officer of the group's then-Hong
Kong-listed unit Alibaba.com from February 2011 until mid-2012,
when the unit was privatised.
Lu holds a masters degree in business administration from
the China Europe International Business School.
His nickname in the company is Tiemuzhen, which is Genghis
Khan's name in Chinese.
LUCY PENG LAI
Peng, one of the group's founders more than a decade ago,
currently wears two hats. She is the chief executive officer of
Alipay and is also the group's chief human resources officer.
Peng, who previously held senior leadership roles at
divisions including marketing and customer services, graduated
from Hangzhou Institute of Commerce of Zhejiang Gongshang
University in 1994 with a business degree.
After her graduation, she taught at the Zhejiang University
of Finance and Economics for five years.
Zhang, who joined Alibaba Group in March 2004 as the
director of Taobao Marketplace's marketing department, is a
president of Alibaba Group and now heads the group's
operational, digital, integrated services, consumer and
interactive business units.
From 2006 to 2009, she held leadership positions at Taobao
Marketplace and Taobao Mall, which is now known as Tmall.com.
She later moved to Alibaba's cloud computing unit and
oversaw wireless and mobile operations until December 2011.
Zhang holds a bachelor of law degree from Chinese People's
Public Security University and a master's degree in business
administration from China Europe International Business School.
Her nickname in the company is Yuyan, a character in a
famous Chinese martial arts novel The Eight Immortals.
DANIEL ZHANG YONG
Zhang is in charge of Alibaba's business-to-consumer
Tmall.com, logistics, supply chain and air travel units.
He joined Taobao in August 2007 and served as its chief
financial officer. He became a president of Alibaba Group in
Before Alibaba, Zhang was CFO of online games company Shanda
Interactive Entertainment Ltd and worked for
PricewaterhouseCoopers and Arthur Andersen.
Zhang holds a bachelors degree in finance from Shanghai
University of Finance and Economics, and is a member of the
Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
His nickname at Alibaba is Xiaoyaozi, another character in
the novel The Eight Immortals.
(Additional reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Anne
Marie Roantree and Ryan Woo)