Transforming Alibaba

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In March 2023, following Jack Ma’s return to China, Alibaba announced its biggest restructuring in history. The group will be “split” into six independent units with a “1+6+N” structure.

That announcement kickstarted a year of drastic changes in leadership, people, organisational structure and much more… 

What exactly has been happening? What do the co-founders, who came back to take up the roles of Group Chairman and CEO, have in mind? 

Perhaps the frequency of mentions of certain keywords during Alibaba Group’s most recent earnings call offer a good glimpse. The most mentioned words are: cloud (61 times), Taobao (52 times) and AI (48 times), in contrast to once paramount important GMV (only 8 times) and brands (only 11 times):

Alibaba’s split has seen changes, nuances and reversals. Spinoff of Cloud Intelligence Group has been cancelled; enterprise collaboration suite DingTalk has been carved out, and identified as one of the four key strategic-level innovation businesses, along with 1688 (B2B platform), Quark (mobile browser & storage), as well as Xianyu (2nd hand ecommerce platform):

While “embracing change” is part of the Alibaba core values, we all know very well that in most organisations changes are very difficult to plan, and implement. The challenges are enormous for Alibaba Group, which has more than 30 businesses and close to a quarter million employees. 

Find out more in our new report “Transforming Alibaba: Understanding Alibaba’s most radical changes in history”. This report seeks to decipher the reasons triggering the change, and the plans Alibaba has moving forward. 

Table of contents: 

  1. What happened in 2023?
  2. Challenges Alibaba faced
  3. What is Alibaba doing?
  4. Conclusion and perspectives