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Alibaba Group announced that Daniel Zhang will be stepping down from its cloud business. This decision comes two months after his planned departure from the CEO and chairman positions to concentrate on the cloud unit.

Zhang assumed leadership of Alibaba’s cloud unit last December, after a major outage. Known as the architect of the annual “Singles Day” shopping festival, Zhang joined Alibaba in 2007, became CEO in 2015, and chairman in 2019, succeeding Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma in both roles. His tenure as group leader saw him navigate Alibaba through two challenging years of increased regulatory scrutiny.

  • Cloud Intelligence Unit: Zhang held triple roles at Alibaba, leading both the group and the cloud intelligence unit, the largest of its kind in China, which is preparing for a spin-off from Alibaba, as part of a planned restructuring.
  • Exit: The reason behind Zhang’s decision to leave the unit was revealed to staff in an internal letter, as reported by Reuters.
  • Successor: Eddie Wu, appointed as the interim chairman and CEO of the Cloud Intelligence Group, will assume control of the cloud business post-Zhang’s exit.
  • Restructuring: The cloud business is integral to Alibaba’s restructuring strategy, which involves dividing the company into six units, each having its own boards and CEOs. Alibaba plans to publicly list its cloud unit within the next year.
  • Valuation: Analysts value the cloud unit between $41B and $60B, however, they express concerns about regulatory scrutiny due to the vast amounts of data it manages.

Zhang will continue to contribute to Alibaba by “channeling his expertise differently.” He will establish a $1B technology fund backed by Alibaba.

The company has also given Zhang an “emeritus” title, a first in its company history.

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