Alibaba and Ant Group have had a horrible year and a half.
Here’s a recap: Ant Group’s IPO was meant to be the largest ever, but was scrapped in November 2020, with many blaming a speech given by Jack Ma in which he pointed a finger at Chinese regulators for smothering innovation.
Then, last year, Alibaba was fined USD 2.8 billion for its monopolistic business practices, a record amount. There were other problems, including a scandal where a manager was accused of sexually assaulting his colleague, reigniting conversations about the sexist culture that is in some of China’s tech companies.
Meanwhile, Alibaba posted its slowest ever revenue growth for its January-March quarter, and its share price in New York and Hong Kong has been steadily sliding since late 2020.
It wouldn’t be accurate to say that China’s economy is in shambles, but it has been sputtering since the pandemic’s onset. There is worry that growth is stalling for tech companies and the recovery may take months, if not years. JD.com’s CEO, Xu Lei, called lockdowns a “double killer” of online and offline businesses. Even Tencent co-founder Pony Ma, who is typically reticent, posted earlier this month on WeChat about the pressures faced by businesses in China.
In the latest entry for KrASIA Connection, our lens turned to Alibaba with a look at its malaise. Some of the problems that plague the company are also headaches for other tech firms. Find out more here.