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Alibaba’s Daniel Zhang quits cloud unit, spin-off plans to go ahead

Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba Group Holdings has announced the departure of Daniel Zhang from its Cloud Intelligence Group, its second biggest business unit after its domestic e-commerce.

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Zhang’s departure, which was outlines in an internal memo issued by the company and obtained by Reuters, comes just two months after the former Alibaba Group CEO and chairman was appointed to lead the cloud unit.

New group CEO Eddie Wu will become acting CEO and chairman of a unit, which has been posting weak sales growth, ahead of a planned initial public offering next year.

Zhang, who succeeded co-founder Jack Ma as group CEO in 2015 and chairman in 2019, took charge of the cloud unit in December.

Wu is one of Alibaba’s 18 co-founders, starting out as technology director in 1999. He is now group CEO, chairman of Taobao and Tmall Group, a director of its Local Service Group, and a director of Alibaba International Digital Commerce Group,

Alibaba’s Cloud Intelligence Group houses the group’s generative artificial intelligence model Tongyi Qianwen and messaging app, Dingtalk.

In its most recent trading update, Alibaba said its cloud unit revenue fell for the first time during the January to March quarter, by 2 percent, due to delayed projects and other factors.

Despite Zhang’s departure, the cloud unit is still go forward with an IPO next year, with Alibaba planning to spin off the unit under a yet-to-be-appointed management team. Earlier this year, the firm said it would complete the process by May 2024.

According Reuters, Alibaba is China’s largest cloud provider with a 34 percent market share, and an estimated unit value of USD 41 billion to USD 60 billion.