A version of this article first appeared on China Economic Review, a leading voice in China’s business world for over 25 years.

Alibaba offered the tech world a double-whammy in the last fortnight, first with the ceremonial passing of the torch from chairman Jack Ma in a heartfelt open letter, then with the unexpected signing of a joint venture arrangement with Russia’s leading tech player a week afterwards.

The deal with Mail.ru — a wide-reaching media conglomerate that could be described for the sake of drawing a parallel as “the Russian Alibaba” — may not have taken over the headlines with the same potency as Ma’s retirement, but based on what it could mean for the parties involved, it probably should have.

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Timothy Ang

Tim Ang is the assistant editor of the China Economic Review and freelance writer in Shanghai, focusing on business, economics, and policy. He has previously reported from Moscow and traveled extensively...