Eddie Wu: Alibaba’s new CEO embraces AI and wants a young management team

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Eddie Wu took over as Alibaba’s chief executive on Sunday.

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Hong Kong

Alibaba Group will embrace artificial intelligence (AI) and promote youth to senior management, its new CEO says, as the e-commerce and cloud giant tackles the most ambitious restructuring in its history.

“Times are changing, and so must Alibaba!” Eddie Wu, who stepped into the chief executive role on Sunday, said in a memo to employees seen by CNN.

Wu replaces Daniel Zhang as Alibaba’s ( BABA ) fourth CEO in its 24-year history. He also took over as head of the cloud division after Zhang’s surprise exit from the unit.

In Tuesday’s memo, Wu laid out his long-term goals for the company, which is looking for new growth points amid a challenging economic environment and increasing competition from rivals.

He said, “Looking forward, Alibaba’s two main strategic focuses will be ‘user first’ and ‘AI-driven’. “We will recalibrate our operations around these two core strategies and reshape our business priorities.”

“Over the next decade, the most significant change agent will be the disruption brought about by AI across all sectors,” he added. “If we don’t keep up with the changes in the AI ​​age, we will be displaced.”

The company’s strategy has been revealed as it tackles its biggest restructuring ever.

According to the plan announced in March, Alibaba will split into six separate units including cloud, e-commerce, logistics, media and entertainment. Each unit will be overseen by its own CEO and board of directors, and most will have a separate listing or fundraising option.

The business environment has also become difficult for one of China’s most valuable Internet companies.

As China’s economy slows, consumers hold back spending. E-commerce companies like Alibaba are under pressure to offer more discounted items to attract customers.

The company faces increasing competition from major online rivals including Pinduoduo ( PDD ) and Bytedance-owned Douyin, a small video app with a strong live shopping business.

Wu said Alibaba has grown rapidly over the past 24 years by “driving the trend of Internet technology”.

But to “find the key to the future” it must “transform” itself as traditional internet models increasingly converge and new technologies like AI emerge as new engines of global business growth.

In addition, Alibaba will keep its leadership team young. It also aims to promote those born after 1985 to form the “core of its business management team” over the next four years, he added.

Alibaba will strengthen its strategic investments in three areas: technology-driven internet platforms, AI-driven technology businesses and global commerce networks, he said.

Furthermore, they will also seek “open and collaborative relationships” with companies traditionally considered competitors.

Top tech companies around the world, including Google ( GOOG ), Amazon ( AMZN ) and Microsoft ( MSFT ), are turning their attention to AI, especially after ChatGPT took the world by storm late last year.

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