Chinese e-commerce entity Alibaba has demoted its e-commerce chief and senior vice-president Jiang Fan on a rather discreditable note. The top executive has been removed from the 38 member partnership that influences the board make-up, thus relegating him to the position of vice-president. Jiang will also face the loss of a year’s worth of financial incentives.
These actions have been taken following an investigation conducted after there were serious allegations of improper behaviour against Jiang. Most of these surrounded the former e-commerce chief’s relationship with an online personality and its influence over the company’s business decisions. Jiang’s wife took to social media earlier this month and warned the internet personality in question to “not mess with her husband”.
This was perhaps the beginning of a storm of responses and rebuttals that have stained the reputation of one of the company’s most crucial executives. Jiang had earlier apologised to the company staff and urged an investigation himself.
The internal investigation conducted by the company revealed no exchange of interests between Jiang and the influencer. However, the online frenzy threatened to tarnish Alibaba’s image, a company that is usually considered a champion of small businesses and corporate ethics in China. The causal sequence predicts more scrutiny for the company while efforts to rearrange logistics due to the covid-19 pandemic are still in motion.
The chain of events is reminiscent of the company’s 2011 debacle. Alibaba’s top-most executives, CEO and COO had retired while the company was being investigated for fraud. While the two didn’t claim to be involved, they accepted responsibility for not putting the extortion to a stop.
The social media frenzy and the company’s subsequent disciplinary moves have cost Jiang what could’ve been a glittering career heading the e-commerce giant after the current CEO Daniel Zhang. The 38-yr old was a lieutenant to Zhang and co-founder Ma and was only recently included in the 38 member partnership. Jiang will continue to oversee TaoBao and Tmall, Ali Baba’s twin e-commerce flagships.