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Jack Ma's Alibaba was once China's answer to Silicon Valley giants – but its turnaround plan appears to be in trouble

Hasan Chowdhury   

Jack Ma's Alibaba was once China's answer to Silicon Valley giants – but its turnaround plan appears to be in trouble
  • Alibaba might not be Asia's top tech company anymore.
  • The Chinese giant founded by Jack Ma is struggling to restructure, the Financial Times reported.

At the start of the decade, Alibaba was crowned Asia's most valuable company – but it now appears to be in crisis mode.

The Chinese internet giant founded by billionaire Jack Ma has struggled to retain its status as the region's top tech firm amid a huge restructuring effort, the Financial Times reported, citing company insiders and analysts.

Alibaba, worth more than $800 billion at its peak during the pandemic, is akin to China's version of Amazon. It operates a number of digital marketplaces, such as Tmall and Taobao, for buyers and sellers to exchange goods.

The company has grown to become much more than that. Its leaders oversee a sprawling conglomerate involving everything from cloud and logistics divisions to entertainment and delivery services.

However, growing power has brought with it growing regulatory pressure from Beijing. In 2021, Alibaba the company was fined a record $2.8 billion in an antitrust probe.

In March 2023, Alibaba announced a radical restructuring program that would see it split into six businesses led by separate CEOs amid the increased scrutiny. That has not gone according to plan, the Financial Times report suggests.

One employee told the outlet that many Alibaba staff "do not know what has and has not split," leading to confusion "until they've been fired after their business unit has been spun off."

Others suggested that employees working at loss-making units were petitioning leaders not to spin off their operations.

Signs that Alibaba's restructuring program was not going according to plan first emerged in November. When announcing earnings for the three months to September, the company said it was no longer fully spinning off its cloud arm.

It cited a "recent expansion of US restrictions on export of advanced computing chips" as having created uncertainties.

Preoccupations with the restructuring plan have also got in the way of Alibaba's efforts to see off competitors to its domestic e-commerce business. Beijing-based consultant Duncan Clark pointed out rivals such as TikTok sister company Douyin and PDD as threats.

Alibaba did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment, made outside regular working hours.


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