Alibaba CEO Eddie Wu warns of “exodus”

  • New CEO Eddie Wu told employees on Tuesday that Alibaba should be “user-first” and “AI-driven.”
  • Wu touted the need to invest in artificial intelligence.
  • Alibaba’s cloud unit has tried to position itself as a leader in artificial intelligence within China as it looks to reignite growth in the business.
  • “If we don’t keep pace with the changes of the AI ​​era, we will be displaced,” Wu said.

Banners at the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd booth. At the Smart China Expo in Chongqing, China, on Monday, September 4, 2023.

Chilai Shen | bloomberg | Getty Images

Alibaba must be “user first” and “AI-driven,” Eddie Wu, Alibaba’s new CEO, told employees on Tuesday, as he laid out the Chinese tech giant’s strategic priorities.

Wu, who has been in his role as Alibaba’s CEO for just three days, called on the e-commerce company to “adopt a startup mentality” as he looks to return the company to growth after one of the most turbulent times in its history. History 24 years.

“Times are changing, and so must Alibaba! As the world advances, Alibaba needs to develop faster!” Wu said in a letter to employees seen by CNBC.

Wu, a close confidant of Alibaba founder Jack Ma, started as CEO on September 10, succeeding Daniel Zhang, who stepped down from the position to focus on heading its cloud computing business. However, in a surprise move, Zhang resigned this week from his position as CEO of the cloud business and Wu took over his position in the meantime.

This comes months after Alibaba split its company into six different business groups, the biggest change in its history.

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Wu said Alibaba’s two main strategic focuses will be “user-first” and “AI-driven.” The company will work to “enhance” its strategic investments in three areas.

The first is called “technology-driven online platforms.” Wu said Alibaba’s business should “seek the most open and cooperative relationships,” even with competitors. This is a different approach from Alibaba, which tends to try to keep users within its product ecosystem.

Wu also touted the need to invest in artificial intelligence. Alibaba’s cloud unit has tried to position itself as a leader in artificial intelligence within China as it looks to reignite growth in the business.

“Each of our businesses generates huge numbers of use cases; therefore, we must transform these use cases into applications for AI technology, leading to amazing user experiences and business models through technological innovation,” Wu said.

“If we don’t keep pace with the changes of the AI ​​era, we will be displaced.”

Alibaba Cloud has its own large language model called Tongyi Qianwen, which was released earlier this year. LLM is an AI model trained on massive amounts of data and powers chatbot applications. It’s the same type of model that OpenAI’s ChatGPT is based on.

Wu also said that Alibaba needs to continue investing in “globalization.”

Alibaba will also look to promote young talent. Over the next four years, the company will promote those born after 1985 and the 1990s “to form the core of our business management teams,” Wu said.

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