Building an empire: Alibaba team to talk strategy at TechCrunch Hangzhou

6 min read

For internet giants, advancing in technology is synonymous with advancing into the future. In just a little over a decade, Jack Ma managed to lead a revolution in China’s internet industry. He built a multinational e-commerce, retail, internet, AI, and technology empire. Its subsidiaries include Ant Financial, Alibaba Cloud, Dingding, and Hema, among others. According to a recent report by KPMG, many tech executives have recognized Alibaba as the industry’s most disruptive and innovative company, exceeding even widely popular names like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. In the face of many new endeavors in AI, blockchain, new retail, cloud computing and IoT, Alibaba’s progressive mentality, advanced technology, and large capital continuously place it ahead of the game. At the upcoming TechCrunch Hangzhou, strategists from the Alibaba team will gather to discuss the future of retail, AI, finance, cloud computing and IoT.

Min Wanli

Chief Data Scientist, Alibaba Cloud

Displaying vast experience in AI, Min Wanli used machine learning to predict the winner of China’s popular reality TV show I Am a Singer, and helped city planners in Guangdong develop a sustainable mobility system through the optimization of real-time traffic data. At Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba Group, Min Wanli led the ET Brain project, an ultra-intelligent AI platform created to improve and transform established systems, from urban traffic flow and environmental management to healthcare. Min Wanli is also a member of the AI Strategic Advisory Committee established by the Ministry of Science and Technology as part of their “Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan,” which articulates an ambitious agenda for China to lead the world in AI

The rise of industrial AI

July 3rd 9:30 – 9:55

Artificial intelligence is finally being integrated into our everyday lives. There’s an extremely high demand for AI across industries, and Alibaba is looking to meet that demand. 

Currently, Alibaba is building an “industrial AI” that can be implemented across industrial fields. Alibaba hopes to see cities, finance companies, cars, supermarkets, and more utilizing their AI. Alibaba Cloud has become a pioneer for artificial intelligence as they show us what this new technology can offer the world.

What changes will AI bring to our lives? What jobs will it create, and which will it replace? How can we expect AI to be implemented in these industries? Hear Min Wanli tell us at our TechCrunch Hangzhou event!

Wang Xiruo

CTO, Hema Xiansheng

Wang Xiruo holds a Master’s in Computer Science from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from the National University of Defense Technology. She was the former Chief Product Officer of Alibaba’s B2B website alibaba.com and President of Alibaba’s Business Division in addition to being a Tmall founding member and Tmall Product Technology Lead. Most notably, she was responsible for developing the sales model for Tmall’s “Singles’ Day,” China’s most popular shopping date, and successfully drove its sales revenue to a record high of RMB 168.2 billion in 2017. Before joining Alibaba, Wang Xiruo was Head of R&D at Oracle. She joined Alibaba in 2008 and is now Vice President of the company, as well as Director of Sanjiang Shopping, a supermarket chain that Alibaba bought into in 2016.

Embracing New Retail

July 2nd 14:20 – 14:45

After two years of user online data accumulation, Alibaba’s Hema Xiansheng was born. It joins the other members of the “Alizoo,” a set of Alibaba subsidiaries whose names are Chinese homonyms for animals. Some examples include the Tmall “cat,” “Ant” Financial, the Alitrip “pig,” and the Cainiao “bird.” In Chinese, hema is a homonym for the Chinese word for “hippo.”

Hema Xiansheng wants to revolutionize retail. The retail industry has always been about providing customers with really meaningful goods and services, and Hema Xiansheng wants to take that further. Cutting-edge technology will link every aspect of their logistics planning, from organizing their supply chain to store management. They hope to provide supermarkets that blend customers’ offline and online shopping habits to be as convenient as possible. This is New Retail.

It’s that convenience that’s allowed Hema Xiansheng to explode in success. Their message to fellow supermarket companies is blunt: Adapt or die. Companies have to completely overhaul themselves internally and externally in order to keep their company a part of new retail. It’s not just about having an app or a website; it’s about integrating technology to drive their business’ development. Traditional supermarkets are going to become a thing of the past, and it’s time for these businesses to get ready for the future.

Hema has become a leader in the supermarket industry, and we’re excited to have their chief technology officer Wang Xiruo join us at our TechCrunch Hangzhou event! She’ll talk more about this “new retail” Hema has created, and how this will make supermarkets more convenient and accessible for consumers.

Hu Xi

Deputy CTO, Ant Financial; Partner of Alibaba Group

Hu Xi is the head of the Infrastructure Technology Department and the Chief Technical Architect of Ant Financial. He joined Alipay in 2007 and became the main designer and developer for every generation of their core payment platform infrastructure. As Ant Financial’s Chief Technical Architect, Hu Xi has led efforts to build a platform to provide financial institutions with cloud computing services. Currently, he is focused on the design and development of the next generation of TechFin infrastructure for Ant Financial.

Innovative financial practices

July 3rd 10:20 – 10:45

On June 8, Ant Financial announced that they were going to start another round of financing, this time with RMB 14 billion. This announcement launched its tech financing into its second half of development.

Reports indicate this funding will go to helping Alipay globalize, independent R&D, and cultivate promising local talents in science and technology. Ant Financial will also be collaborating with partners to promote global financing opportunities and strengthen its investments in blockchain, AI, cloud computing, and several other tech industries.

This funding announcement has increased Ant Financial’s total worth to RMB 150 million when only two years ago it was RMB 60 million. The only institutions they are behind are China’s four largest banks, which took decades for them to wield the financial power they do now. Technology is an industry that disrupts and transforms any industry it comes in contact with, especially, it seems, the financial industry.

On the main stage of TechCrunch Hangzhou 2018, get ready to see Ant Financial’s Deputy Chief Technology Officer and Alibaba Partner Hu Xi talk about how Ant Financial has embraced and internalized new ways of approaching finance. The internet and unique tech projects offer incredible opportunities to learn and innovate, and with this mentality, Ant Financial has succeeded and grown at a rate no financial institution thus far has.

Zhang Sicheng

Vice President, DingTalk

Zhang Sicheng received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Hong Kong. He was president of B&S Communications, where he was responsible for global business development. Under him, B&S partnered with Huawei to launch their first popular smartphone. In 2014, he joined Alibaba Cloud. He was responsible for building Alibaba’s internet car business from the ground-up, establishing the Zebra network in a joint venture with SAIC Motor Corporation, and launching the first kind of internet car: the Roewe RX5.

The future of corporate synergy

July 3rd 10:45 – 11:10

When it comes to developing communication software, especially for corporate collaboration and instant messaging, internet companies are showing off their ability to innovate. Alibaba’s DingTalk has proven to be incredibly popular with companies, boasting 5 million organizations and 100 million users using their platform. Its instant messaging, voice and video chat, video streaming, and other collaborative tools have completely transformed the corporate workspace.

But three years ago, Alibaba had no stakes in social media or communication software. Tencent’s WeChat dominated the market. Alibaba had to prove that DingTalk wasn’t just a gimmick, but a set of tools that was competitive with, if not superior to, the tools companies were already using. If their success is anything to go off of, they were definitely right.

With artificial intelligence becoming adopted by more and more industries, DingTalk is looking for ways to integrate AI into their enterprise software. They’ve helped introduce online tools into corporate workflows; now, they want to introduce “smart enterprise” software and once again revolutionize corporate collaboration.

As Zhang Sicheng, Vice President of DingTalk, once said, “Companies should embrace the future. DingTalk will lead the way into the future of work.”