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  1. BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Tuesday unveiled its most significant business reshuffle since co-founder Jack Ma announced his pending retirement, as the e-commerce firm looks to bolster its investment focus in the face of slowing growth. Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu will oversee Alibaba’s strategic investments unit, taking over that responsibility from Executive Vice-Chairman Joe Tsai who will support Wu in her expanded role, the firm said on its official WeChat account. The change comes as Alibaba invests in new business lines such as cloud computing as a boom in its core e-commerce has peaked and revenue growth slows. Reuters reported last month that the firm is considering raising as much as $20 billion through a listing in Hong Kong to boost funds available for investment. “To guarantee innovation, invest in our future, Alibaba is undertaking an organizational upgrade,” the company said in a statement signed by Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang, who will become chairman when Ma retires on Sept. 10. The changes are effective from Tuesday, Alibaba said. Expanding Wu’s remit is aimed at more tightly integrating Alibaba’s investments into its overall eco-system, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified as details of the appointment are not yet public. Tsai will remain executive vice-chairman, the person said. Wu has been CFO since 2013. Tsai sits on the board and has served on investment committees of Alibaba Group and affiliate Ant Financial. He joined the company in 1999 and emerged as a key dealmaker, helping draw in investment from the likes of U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc . Duncan Clark, author of “Alibaba: The House that Jack Built,” said Ma’s pending resignation made it natural for observers to question Tsai’s future at the company. “Joe is inextricably linked to Jack,” says Clark. “As a right hand man of Jack Ma, Ma’s imminent retirement begged the question as to whether the right hand man would follow suit.” Tsai declined to comment. Alibaba’s outbound investment has slowed since a flurry of deals in 2014 and 2015, and Clark added the company was increasingly targeting the domestic market. In its Tuesday statement, Alibaba also said its supermarket division, Freshippo, will become a standalone business, while enterprise software unit DingTalk will be merged into the firm’s cloud unit. Source
  2. The trade war is starting to hurt the Asian nation, depressing the consumer spending that the Alibaba relies on to drive much of its growth. Alibaba trimmed its annual forecast after quarterly sales missed estimates, underscoring the extent to which escalating tensions with the US are hurting the Chinese economy. For the fiscal year ending March, the company is now predicting revenue of 375 billion yuan ($54.5 billion) to 383 billion yuan, equating to growth of as much as 53% versus the 60% it guided towards previously. Second-quarter sales came in 1.6% below analysts’ estimates. While the US and China appear willing to discuss a deal of some sort, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has warned of longer-term conflict between the world’s two largest economies. The trade war is starting to hurt the Asian nation, depressing the consumer spending that the online giant relies on to drive much of its growth. Domestically, it’s grappling with a migration of smaller merchants to cheaper platforms such as JD.com and Pinduoduo, both backed by nemesis Tencent. “China’s e-commerce sector will feel the drag of the economy slowdown even more next year,” said Steven Zhu, an analyst with Pacific Epoch. “Platforms like Pinduoduo are charging much lower in commissions, posing significant competition to Alibaba.” Heightening the uncertainty, Chinese regulators are clamping down on the country’s internet sector, reining in everything from gaming apps and travel sites to ride-hailing. That’s exacerbating already slowing growth in Alibaba’s business. The Hangzhou-based company is trying to counter that by stepping up its marketing services and investing in its own grocery stores and delivery to boost sales. Alibaba’s closely watched customer management revenue, which includes the high-margin business of helping merchants with marketing, grew 25%– down a tad from the previous quarter’s 26%. Other divisions however remained humming — the cloud business grew 90%. Youku, its Netflix-style video service, more than doubled its average daily subscribers, while the international business — a relatively smaller piece of the pie — grew 55%. Revenue at China’s biggest e-commerce company rose 54% to 85.15 billion yuan in the three months ended September. That compares with the 86.5 billion-yuan average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Adjusted earnings-per-share came to 9.60 yuan, compared with estimates for 7.43 yuan. Shares of Alibaba gained 2.6 percent in pre-market trade, as stocks surged amid hopes China and the U.S. might have possible terms of a trade deal to discuss this month. Its shares have slid 12.3 percent this year compared with a 3.5 percent loss for the NYSE Composite Index. The reduced forecast comes as Alibaba ramps up for its annual Singles’ Day shopping festival, a litmus test of not just the company’s health but also China’s overall consumption. Chinese online retail sales growth is already slowing, to 24% in the third quarter from 36% in the second. Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang, who succeeds Ma as chairman next year, will preside over the November 11 event as it broadens the shopping categories to include purchases made in affiliated shopping malls and food deliveries. Alibaba faces “a soft quarter ahead on weak consumption and intensifying competition,” Wendy Huang, an analyst at Macquarie, said in a report. Source
  3. Mozilla: The Internet Is Unhealthy And Urgently Needs Your Help Mozilla argues that the internet's decentralized design is under threat by a few key players, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Tencent, Alibaba and Amazon, monopolizing messaging, commerce, and search. Can the internet as we know it survive the many efforts to dominate and control it, asks Firefox maker Mozilla. Much of the internet is in a perilous state, and we, its citizens, all need to help save it, says Mark Surman, executive director of Firefox maker the Mozilla Foundation. We may be in awe of the web's rise over the past 30 years, but Surman highlights numerous signs that the internet is dangerously unhealthy, from last year's Mirai botnet attacks, to market concentration, government surveillance and censorship, data breaches, and policies that smother innovation. "I wonder whether this precious public resource can remain safe, secure and dependable. Can it survive?" Surman asks. "These questions are even more critical now that we move into an age where the internet starts to wrap around us, quite literally," he adds, pointing to the Internet of Things, autonomous systems, and artificial intelligence. In this world, we don't use a computer, "we live inside it", he adds. "How [the internet] works -- and whether it's healthy -- has a direct impact on our happiness, our privacy, our pocketbooks, our economies and democracies." Surman's call to action coincides with nonprofit Mozilla's first 'prototype' of the Internet Health Report, which looks at healthy and unhealthy trends that are shaping the internet. Its five key areas include open innovation, digital inclusion, decentralization, privacy and security, and web literacy. Mozilla will launch the first report after October, once it has incorporated feedback on the prototype. That there are over 1.1 billion websites today, running on mostly open-source software, is a positive sign for open innovation. However, Mozilla says the internet is "constantly dodging bullets" from bad policy, such as outdated copyright laws, secretly negotiated trade agreements, and restrictive digital-rights management. Similarly, while mobile has helped put more than three billion people online today, there were 56 internet shutdowns last year, up from 15 shutdowns in 2015, it notes. Mozilla fears the internet's decentralized design, while flourishing and protected by laws, is under threat by a few key players, including Facebook, Google, Apple, Tencent, Alibaba and Amazon, monopolizing messaging, commerce and search. "While these companies provide hugely valuable services to billions of people, they are also consolidating control over human communication and wealth at a level never before seen in history," it says. Mozilla approves of the wider adoption of encryption today on the web and in communications but highlights the emergence of new surveillance laws, such as the UK's so-called Snooper's Charter. It also cites as a concern the Mirai malware behind last year's DDoS attacks, which abused unsecured webcams and other IoT devices, and is calling for safety standards, rules and accountability measures. The report also draws attention to the policy focus on web literacy in the context of learning how to code or use a computer, which ignores other literacy skills, such as the ability to spot fake news, and separate ads from search results. Source Alternate Source - 1: Mozilla’s First Internet Health Report Tackles Security, Privacy Alternate Source - 2: Mozilla Wants Infosec Activism To Be The Next Green Movement
  4. January 29, 2014, 3:56 PM PST One of the more interesting factoids if you are thinking about the upgraded role of Lenovo in the U.S. smartphone market going forward after it bought Motorola Mobility today is that Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang is an observer on its board. While he does not have any voting rights as a director, apparently due to issues related the Hong Kong stock exchange, Yang did land the now high-profile cross-cultural gig that also earns him up to $200,000 a year in cash and stock about a year ago. And sources said he was quite involved in helping the company think through its nearly $3 billion deal to buy the Motorola handset business from Google to further diversify its offerings in the mobile arena. Ironic, of course, given Yang also lent a hand to the search giant in the late 1990s, giving it a plum opportunity to power Yahoo search when it was in its heyday. The arrangement was one of the most important initial transactions for Google in its early formation and most definitely helped its brand become known. Interestingly, Yang also was a key player in Yahoo making the $1 billion investment in Chinas Alibaba Group, one that has appreciated to such a degree that it has proved to be a lifesaver for its current CEO Marissa Mayer also an ex-Googler. In an interview with me several years ago, Alibabas co-founder and former CEO Jack Ma said Yangs friendship with him was critical and pointed to one particular dinner with Yang in sealing the now prescient deal. Yahoos current stock has risen largely due to that transaction and its current 24 percent stake in Alibaba. It is a boost that has given the company ample air cover as it struggles to right itself (which is, as yesterdays earnings show, a work still very much in progress). Here, Yang deserves obvious kudos (and a big, expensive present from Mayer for making her look so good would be in order too). As most know and I also gave him a very hard time then he had a tough tenure when he was Yahoo CEO from mid-2007 to early 2009, having to face down a hostile takeover attempt from Microsoft, as well as other vexing issues at the company. Since he ended involvement with Yahoo several years ago, though, Yang has become an wide-ranging, if shy, investor. A few weeks ago at lunch in Silicon Valley, he walked me through a range of the companies he has invested in and looked about as excited and charged up as I have ever seen him in the nearly 20 years we have known each other (Yes, Jerry we are old!). He has been doing this via several investment vehicles, most especially his own Ame Cloud Ventures. In a post I did about that last May, I called him Jerry 2.0, a name he of course grimaced at (just like I know he is grimacing now at all this attention I am giving him). I feel like the thing I missed the most is what really early entrepreneurs were doing, he said at the time. There are no LPs just me, myself and I. I invest in things for the long term and have a long horizon and the flexibility. Ame means rain (雨) in Japanese and happens to be the acronym of the names of his wife and kids. At the time and also again recently, he said he was very interested activity around mobility, sensors, cloud and big data that is enabling the next generation of computing. Among his investments is Tomfoolery, which is aimed at improving mobile enterprise apps and which, drum roll, Yahoo is buying. He also has invested in small satellite maker Planet Labs and body-tech startup Lumo. In addition, Yang also works closely with another former Yahoo, Ash Patel who started the $10 million micro-venture fund Morado Ventures, which means purple in Spanish, and has a lot of ex-Yahoos as investors as well as individual angel and former Yahoo CTO Farzad Nazem. Yang has also remained active in Asia. The Taiwan-born entrepreneur is very active in the region and considered quite a superstar there. As I previously noted, to select from the companies he mulls, Yang has only one young associate, Nick Adams, who codes, helps on deal mechanics, interacts with entrepreneurs and also has had extensive experience in Asia. That has been important, since Adams also leads business development for Chinas Cloud Valley, which is run by Edward Tian, one of Yangs strategic partners in that country. It was with Cloud Valley that Evernote, the hot productivity app in which Yang is also an investor, partnered to create a business there. Yang has also served as a director of Chinas Alibaba and also Yahoo Japan, although he left both boards in 2012. But he has also had some trouble related to China, most especially in taking the heat in a difficult Congressional hearing in 2007 concerning a controversial move that Yahoo China made there in handing over information about a journalist Shi Tao to authorities. Tao was then jailed in 2004. At the time of his appointment to the Lenovo board, its CEO Yang Yuanquing said: Jerrys appointment as an observer to our board furthers Lenovos reputation as a transparent international company As Lenovo continues to build on its momentum and establish itself as a global technology leader, Jerrys perspective, experience and proven entrepreneurial spirit will help us continue to drive growth and expand our business. Lenovo has tried to diversify its board in recent years to make it different from others in China by pushing transparency, which will surely help with any regulatory issues in getting approval of the Motorola deal. http://recode.net/2014/01/29/jerry-yangs-lenovo-connection-in-china-and-lets-not-forget-alibaba-either
  5. Turk

    Alibaba’s Doing Great!

    By Kara Swisher January 28, 2014, 2:00 PM PST Here’s the only chart that matters from Yahoo’s fourth-quarter slides — the one showing a 53 percent increase in revenue and a 58 percent rise in gross profit at China’s Alibaba Group. Yahoo’s core business: Not so much, with continued revenue declines in a fast-growing industry. But — thanks be to Jerry Yang — Yahoo still owns 24 percent of Alibaba, which is set to go public later this year. Here are the rest of the Yahoo charts and press releases and such to peruse, most of which paint a picture of a shrinking business: http://recode.net/2014/01/28/heres-the-only-chart-that-matters-at-yahoo-in-q4-alibabas-doing-great
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