Briefing: Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang steps into spotlight prior to succession

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Zhang: Empower Young Innovators to shape the future – Alizila

What happened: Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang shared his views on innovation and Alibaba’s evolution at a conference in Beijing on April 27. In his reflections on Alibaba’s 20-year history, Zhang said that innovation comes from looking for opportunities for society in the future. “A real entrepreneur, they may identify some opportunities not only for today but also for tomorrow,” he said. Zhang also stated that start-ups should focus on value creation, not valuation, to retain customers.

Why it’s important: As the engineer for some of the company’s best-known achievements and a key proponent of Alibaba’s “New Retail” model, the 47-year-old CEO is shifting into a more visible role following the news in September that Zhang will replace company founder Jack Ma as chairman of the board in a year. The speech was a rare glimpse into Zhang’s views on key values in the industry and offers an opportunity to assess what to expect for the company after Ma’s retirement.