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Shakeup in Lazada’s tech team as Alibaba takes control

Shakeup in Lazada’s tech team as Alibaba takes control

Shakeup in Lazada’s tech team as Alibaba takes control
March 12
12:54 2018

Photo credit: Lazada.

Alibaba’s influence on prize catch Lazada deepens. In recent months, two senior Alibaba executives have joined Lazada to lead its technology team, the Southeast Asian ecommerce firm revealed.

Lazada is also shutting down its Bangkok and Moscow engineering centers and moving a small number of employees to its remaining tech hubs in Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City, and Shenzhen, where it is hiring multiple positions.

Chun Li, most recently CTO of Alibaba’s B2B division, has joined Lazada as co-president of technology in the latter half of last year. He is responsible for technology, product, and data. Lazada clarified that Li is not sharing the role with anyone and “co-president” is an official title held by some members of the senior management team.

Reporting to him is Raymond Yang, who has joined Lazada as its chief product officer. Yang was with Alibaba for eight years, focusing on its consumer-to-consumer marketplace Taobao.

Lazada offered all of its Moscow staff – numbering 200 or so – a chance to relocate to its other locations, said two ex-employees who declined to be named. They added that only a minority accepted the offers, and the rest decided to leave the company. Some staff felt that the relocation offers were too low, while others wanted to stay in Moscow for family reasons.

The company’s Russian unit was notified of its impending shutdown last October, the sources said. The relocation offers happened last week, and the last staff departures are slated for end-May this year.

Its Bangkok staff were also given similar offers. “All team members in affected locations were offered to relocate to other tech hubs,” a Lazada spokesman told Tech in Asia, in response to rumors about the shakeup, which startup consultancy Momentum Works wrote about in a blog post. The post was later removed.

Alibaba’s technology, product, and business intelligence teams now “comprise colleagues from Lazada, with additions from Alibaba and a continuous inflow of new hires,” the Lazada spokesman added. He did not say exactly how many Alibaba employees have joined the company.

Lazada’s new tech hub in Shenzhen signifies a closer collaboration with Alibaba. The hub sits right in Alibaba’s backyard in the city where the ecommerce giant’s newest office center – 11 times the size of a football field – is also situated.

Will Alibaba conquer Southeast Asia?

This engineering overhaul could give Alibaba an edge in Southeast Asia, combining its scale and breadth with Lazada’s local knowledge. Deeper integration between the two could give them unmatched economies of scale and drive down their costs.

Lazada is plugged into Alibaba’s logistics network, a move that boosts cross-border ecommerce in a fractured region with equally fractured customs norms. It began stocking goods from Taobao sellers directly on its website last year.

Rival Shopee started doing the same only a few days ago. Although the firm did not specify how it brought Taobao sellers on board, convincing them to do business with an additional marketplace might be costly in the long run. That is because, in order to attract sellers who are already successful on Taobao, Shopee would need to dangle large carrots to attract them. Shopee declined to comment.

Indeed, Lazada’s rivals are making aggressive moves. JD and Amazon are investing directly into Indonesia and Singapore, respectively. However, neither enjoy the regional presence that Lazada and its majority shareholder Alibaba have.

Lazada is among the top five shopping Android app across major markets in Southeast Asia. While Shopee seems to be equally ubiquitous, it has only started monetizing, making just US$9.3 million in revenue despite spending about US$132 million in marketing in the last quarter of 2017.

Further, Shopee has to withstand the scrutiny of public investors. The stock price of Sea, Shopee’s parent company that counts Tencent as a shareholder, fell more than 10 percent after its latest financial results were released. Lazada, which isn’t listed, does not need to reveal specific financial numbers.

The race is far from over, however, as Alibaba and Lazada will need to integrate the Chinese and Southeast Asian cultures, argued Zhao Jialei, market analyst at Momentum Works.

“Chinese product manager and engineers tend to focus more on speed. Some of them can really work 16 hours a day, seven days a week. But they are not necessarily interested in the latest methodologies or long-term thinking. Lots of efforts, later on, are often spent on fixing problems that could have been avoided in earlier developments,” he wrote in a blog post.

This post Shakeup in Lazada’s tech team as Alibaba takes control appeared first on Tech in Asia.

source : techinasia

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