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Alibaba removes youngest partner Jiang Fan after affair goes public · TechNode


Alibaba announced today that it has removed Jiang Fan, president of the company’s marketplaces Taobao and Tmall, from its list of partners after an investigation into Jiang’s alleged affair with a social media influencer who is a co-founder of Alibaba-backed KOL agency Ruhnn.

Why it matters: Jiang Fan was widely seen as a potential successor to Zhang Yong, the current CEO of the Alibaba Group. This tough career setback for the 35-year-old Jiang, who is also the youngest member of Alibaba’s partners’ committee, might mean a change to the e-commerce giant’s succession plans.

  • Chinese tech tycoons are increasingly facing public scrutiny over their private lives. The drama surrounding Jiang Fan comes after a rape accusation against JD’s Richard Liu and a divorce drama for Dangdang co-founder Li Guoqing.
  • JD founder Richard Liu is gradually taking a back seat in the operation of the e-commerce giant after the scandal hit company shares by nearly 70% in late 2018.

Details: Alibaba removed Jiang Fan from its partners committee and demoted him from senior vice president to vice president, local media reported.

  • Jiang’s alleged lover, Zhang Dayi, is a key influencer at KOL agency Ruhnn, who brought in half of its total sales for nearly three years.
  • However, Alibaba says the internal investigation shows that Jiang was not involved in the company’s decision to invest in Ruhnn in 2016.
  • Neither preferential policies towards Ruhnn nor Zhang Dayi’s Taobao and Tmall stores were discovered during the investigation, Alibaba said.
  • The company clawed back Jiang’s 2019 annual bonus for the misconduct.

Context: On April 17, a Weibo user described by Chinese media as Jiang Fan’s wife posted a statement that warned social media influencer Zhang Dayi, not to “mess around” with her husband. Jiang has asked the company to launch an investigation into his own behavior.

  • Alibaba-backed Taobao has an 8.56% stake in Ruhnn, according to the company’s prospectus.
  • The Hangzhou-based influencer firm went public in April 2019, raising $125 million in its NASDAQ IPO. Ruhnn shares dropped 5.53% on Friday trading.

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.
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