Kara Swisher

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Alibaba Group Names Lu as CEO to Replace Ma

Alibaba Group said it had selected Jonathan Lu Zhaoxi to replace its co-founder and CEO Jack Ma, starting on May 10. Ma, who is only 48 years old, will remain executive chairman, and will be involved in the Chinese Internet e-commerce giant’s business strategy and management development. Alibaba has seen tremendous growth in the last year, as it is has increased both its revenue and profit, and many expect it will go public within the next 12 months. The strong performance has, in turn, boosted the stock of Yahoo, which owns a 20 percent stake in the company.

Lu, 43, has been at Alibaba for more than a dozen years, leading major divisions of the company, including its massive and important Taobao unit. He is currently Alibaba’s chief data officer and president of Aliyun Mobile OS.

“Serving as Alibaba Group CEO is an extremely challenging and difficult job, especially succeeding a founder CEO like me. One can only imagine the responsibilities and pressure that Jonathan will shoulder,” said Ma in a letter to employees. “Alibaba has never been only the CEO’s business, it is everybody’s business.”

Here’s Ma’s full letter to employees on the change:

And here is some of Lu’s bio, according to Alibaba:

Lu joined Alibaba in 2000, a year after the company was founded as an Internet directory allowing China’s increasingly competitive factories to more easily connect with international buyers. After forming Alibaba.com’s sales team for South China, including manufacturing powerhouse Guangdong Province, Lu in 2004 led the launch of Alipay, the company’s online payments affiliate. He later served as Alipay’s president.

In early 2008 Lu moved to Taobao, China’s dominant online retailing platform. During his tenure Taobao’s GMV (total sales generated by sellers using the platform) soared eightfold, and the online shopping unit began developing and integrating social networking into e-commerce.

Lu, who holds a master’s degree in business administration from China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, was named chief executive officer of Alibaba.com in early 2011, presiding over the privatization of the business-to-business trading website the following year.

Since July 2012, Lu has been an Alibaba executive vice president and the Group’s chief data officer. In this role, he has been responsible for driving the company’s strategically important Big Data initiative, centered on the creation of a data-sharing platform that can be accessed by the millions of small businesses that use Alibaba services. He is also responsible for Alibaba’s Aliyun mobile device operating system.

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