It’s all change today at Lazada, the Alibaba-owned startup that rules online shopping in Southeast Asia, as founder Max Bittner is wheeled out of the CEO office. In his place is Lucy Peng, 45. But who is the new Lazada boss, exactly?
She’s one of Alibaba’s 18 founders, who set up the US$500 billion online shopping giant alongside Jack Ma back in 1999. Six of Alibaba’s 18 co-founders are female.
She’s a billionaire worth a little over US$1.1 billion, by Forbes‘ latest estimate.
She now wears many hats. In addition to being the new CEO of Singapore-based Lazada, Peng is still executive chair at Alibaba spin-off Ant Financial back in China. That’s the payments business, best known for Alipay, which is said to be weighing up an IPO that’d value it at over US$100 billion. She’s also Lazada’s chairwoman.
Contacted this morning, an Alibaba spokesperson declined to answer questions on Peng’s many roles.
She won’t be moving to Singapore, according to what Tech in Asia can figure out. Instead, the Alibaba exec will be doing a lot of flying.
She has plenty of CEO experience. Back in 2010, she was appointed CEO of Alipay, a job she had for six years before the fast-moving fintech firm, now known as Ant Financial, handed the CEO mantle to Eric Jing. In her role as Alipay boss, she turned the wallet app into a financial services juggernaut and expanded it outside China.
Prior to that, she was chief people officer at Alibaba for more than a decade.
See: Ant Financial’s 6-point playbook for global expansion
She’s a former teacher – just like Jack Ma. Peng taught at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics for five years in the 1990s after graduating with a degree in business administration from a different college in Alibaba’s hometown.
The appointment follows a recent trend of Alibaba replacing key Lazada employees with its own people. In recent months, two senior Alibaba executives have joined Lazada to lead its technology team. On top of that, Lazada’s new tech hub in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen signifies a closer alliance with Alibaba in place of Lazada’s roots as a Rocket Internet startup.
Alibaba is shifting into top gear in Southeast Asia. With Amazon’s tentative entry into Singapore and an array of online shopping startups on the rise across Southeast Asia, the time is ripe for escalating the war. Alibaba is doing that by putting one of its most trusted generals in charge of its frontier attack, and also giving her US$2 billion in ammunitions.
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