Completing his leadership role at Alibaba Group, Kaife Zhang is being transferred to Web3 with speculation of it being linked to the unsatisfactory performance of his business developments, with his ‘Big Taobao Four,’ comprised of Pingchou, Blowing Snow, and Jialuo, that previously reported to Jiang Fan, to still remain unchanged.
Alibaba Group Re-Structures and Brings Kaifer Zhang to Lead Web3 Initiative
Alibaba Group, one of the world’s largest online marketplaces and a key player in the Chinese tech sector, has recently undergone an internal restructuring. As part of the reshuffle, the company has moved Kaifer Zhang, its vice president and General Manager of Global AliExpress, to lead its Web3 initiative.
Kaif has long been a leader in the Taobao Merchants and industries, and is part of a collective known as the “Big Taobao Four,” which includes Pingchou (Tang Xing), Blowing Snow (Yang Guang), and Jialuo (Liu Bo). Little has been revealed as to why Kaif is being transferred to this role. However, some have speculated that the restructuring may have been in the wake of an unsuccessful business venture.
The thing Alibaba Group is most well-known for is Jack Ma’s influence over the fintech giant Ant Group. As part of the group’s recent restructuring, Ma has given up control of Ant Group, leaving no one single shareholder in charge—instead, Hangzhou Junhan and Hangzhou Junao will now independently exercise their voting rights in Ant. The economic interests of all shareholders in Ant Group will not experience any changes as a result.
Many believe this change to the corporate structure will be beneficial to the company in the long-term. Wang Pengbo, a senior financial analyst at BoTong Analysys, is confident that the new company structure with improved voting rights is significantly more stable, and “paves the way for it to go public in future.” Since the announcement of Ma resigning control, shares of Ant-affiliated company Alibaba have jumped significantly, increasing by almost 10% on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 2020, Ant attempted to conduct the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO). However, the Chinese government took a negative stance and the plan was ultimately halted, though the company still seeks to stay abreast with the development of blockchain technology and digital assets. Ant has actively developed its blockchain business, AntChain, introducing new products in 2022.
Although Ant has demonstrated increasing interest in blockchain technology, the company has also adhered to the Chinese government’s negative stance on crypto. Many firms, including Ant, have imposed certain restrictions on their non-fungible token platforms for fear of a crackdown.
This is made all the more evident in court decisions, such as the one handed down to Xiao Yi, the former Communist Party secretary of the City of Fuzhou. He was charged with bribery and accepting over $18 million in illegal payments, as well as carrying out business transactions with Bitcoin miners from 2017-2021. As a result, China has implemented a blanket cryptocurrency mining ban, prohibiting miners from having access to electricity and capital markets.
In light of Chinese regulations, as well as a prolonged Winter season in the market, former Binance President Bill Qian is looking to change the status quo by investing $100 million in Web3 companies. The goal is to bring five billion internet users over to Web3, with the hope of driving up the market and providing mass adoption. As of now, Web3 is largely regarded as an investment or gambling market. For the masses, there is limited access to everyday services and use-cases, which Qian is looking to change with his venture-capital funding.
Therefore, by bringing Kaifer Zhang to spearhead its Web3 initiative, Alibaba Group seems confident about bringing about changes to the Web3 industry. It is expected that Ant Group’s blockchain business, AntChain, as well as Qian’s funding could be beneficial for Web3, providing easier access and mass adoption of the technology in the near future.