Alibaba Eyes Markets Outside Asia & Appoints President

Michael Evans
Michael Evans and Lise Evans at an event in New York in 2013.
Getty Images.

Alibaba Group has begun the first steps to make good on Executive Chairman Jack Ma’s promises to rebrand China as a consumption-based economy and expand Alibaba beyond Asian borders.

The etail behemoth announced today the appointment of 20-year Goldman Sachs partner and longtime Alibaba adviser, Michael Evans, to the newly created role of Alibaba Group president, effective immediately.

Evans served as an independent director since the company’s initial public offering in September 2014 and his most recent appointment, the company said, highlights Alibaba’s “strong commitment to globalizing its business.”

“Michael has been a close advisor to Alibaba Group for many years, and we greatly value his deep knowledge of our business, his experience as a proven business builder and leader globally, and his more than 20 years of experience in China,” said Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang in a release. “Globalization is Alibaba Group’s most important strategy for the coming decades, and our goal is to help 10 million global businesses and serve 2 billion consumers around the world. We have been laying the foundation for many years and now we need a global team in place with best-in-class talent to bring our vision to fruition. To that end, I can think of no one better than Michael to help Alibaba become a truly global company.”

Evans will start by building relationships with brands, retailers and product owners to get more goods and services into China, Alibaba said.

“I am honored to be joining Alibaba and excited by the opportunity to lead Alibaba’s international growth strategy. I look forward to joining Daniel’s management team and working with a terrific group of people with whom I’ve developed strong relationships,” Evans said in a statement.

Evans spent the last 20 years as a partner of Goldman Sachs, where he served as vice chairman, head of Global Growth Markets, and chairman of Asia.

“I am delighted that Michael has agreed to take on this important new challenge,” said Ma in a release. “As we connect Alibaba and the rest of the world, we are turning to a proven international leader who has been connecting China and the rest of the world for most of his career. Through his work on our board, he has built the trust and respect of our management team, and I have no doubt that he will make a significant contribution to our business.”

Ma had made waves during a U.S. tour in June when he laid out an ambitious strategy to take Alibaba to $1 trillion in sales in the next five years. That growth would be driven in part, Ma said, by sales from American businesses to Chinese customers.