Alibaba CEO Zhang Yong Decentralizes Power Within Firm

People familiar with the matter have indicated that Zhang Yong, CEO of Alibaba Group, is delegating power to the heads of various business departments of the company in order to cope with increasing challenges more flexibly, Chinese media outlet ifeng reported on November 27.

With these moves, Zhang is handing over more responsibilities to the presidents of various business units, from location-based services to cloud computing. The move aims to speed up decision-making so that each division can better resist competition, revive sluggish sales and reshape the overall image of the company.

This change in management has taken shape over the past few months, reversing the centralisation that Alibaba began pushing for nearly three years ago.

People familiar with the matter said that the new management model has not been officially announced within the company. But in the past few months, “building a flexible organization” has become a buzzword within the company.

Zhang Yong took over as CEO of Alibaba in 2015 and became chairman in 2019. Sources said that in the past, Zhang would hold a meeting with the presidents of various business departments every two weeks to inquire about the business situation in detail and listen to their direct reports. But in recent months, such meetings have been much less frequent.

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Now, Zhang is still directly supervising Alibaba‘s e-commerce business. Other business units have their own presidents, such as community e-commerce, cloud computing and local services.