Alibaba has reorganized leadership at Lazada, its e-commerce company in Southeast Asia, after CEO Lucy Peng, one of Alibaba’s original founders, retired to be replaced by Lazada CEO Pierre Poignant after only nine months in office.
Alibaba owns more than 90 percent of Lazada, but has been involved in the business since April 2016 when it bought 51 percent of Lazada for $ 1 billion from Rocket Internet. Last year it invested another $ 1 billion to increase its capital by about 83 percent, and earlier this year, it increased its stake even further with an additional injection of $ 2 billion.
That latest investment made Peng, former CEO of Ant Financial, become CEO of Lazada instead of Max Bittner, who had been installed by the former owner of Rocket Internet in 2012. Poignant also came to the company in 2012 and worked alongside Bittner as Lazada’s COO. Since then, he has been head of its logistics division prior to a brief five-month stint as CEO prior to this new role.
Lazada operates in six Southeast Asian countries, but there are very few indicators of how the business is performing.
Alibaba’s own financial reports match Lazada with the firm’s other international businesses. Collectively, they raised 4.5 trillion RMB ($ 650 million) in the last quarter. That’s an impressive 55 percent revenue jump, but it represents a small portion of Alibaba’s total revenue of RMB 85.15 billion ($ 12.4 billion) in the second quarter of 2019.
Lazada participated in the mega day of the recent 11/11 sale of Singles Day. Alibaba as a whole raised $ 31 billion from GMV during the 24-hour period, but the company did not break down Lazada’s numbers. Lazada said he broke records, but the only information he provided was that 20 million buyers were “searching and grabbing” deals on his site. You’ll notice that the statement doesn’t explicitly offer sales. We asked at the time, but Lazada declined to give sales or revenue numbers.
In this context, it’s hard to say whether Peng presented himself as a breach while Lazada was searching for a new CEO, or whether his original role was to preside over a business revamp. Lazada has certainly been installing new executive teams in many local markets, according to sources within the company, but it is unclear if Peng is being retired as planned or if things did not work out as expected.
The news follows Alibaba’s second investment in Tokopedia, Indonesia’s leading e-commerce platform, yesterday.
Speaking of the rivalry, Tokopedia CEO William Tanuwijaya told TechCrunch that he sees differences between the two.
“We see that Lazada has a different business model than ours: Lazada is a hybrid model of retail and market, while Tokopedia is a pure market. Lazada is [a] “Regional player, we are a national player in Indonesia,” he said.