China Tech Giant Alibaba Dismisses Livestreaming Head, Zhao Yan

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has fired Zhao Yan, the head of its fast-growing livestreaming division, on grounds of nepotism and accepting gifts, according to an internal memo announcing his termination, seen by Reuters.

The undated document, produced by Alibaba’s human resources department and published on June 29 on the company’s internal intranet for staff, says Zhao was fired after he used his position to help third-party livestreamers score favourable positioning on Taobao Live, Alibaba’s main platform for live-streamed e-commerce.

The document also says Zhao helped his girlfriend secure a high-paying job with a livestreaming company, and accepted gifts from business partners. The document did not link the gifts to the favourable positioning, say how the allegations were discovered or investigated, or when Zhao was fired.

An Alibaba spokesman declined to comment.

Zhao did not respond to messages sent to his personal account on Chinese social media site Weibo, and Reuters did not have his telephone contact details. Reuters was not able to determine whether Zhao had legal representation.

Livestreaming is one of Alibaba’s fastest-growing business sectors, with the company’s most recent earnings report showing a doubling between fiscal 2018 and 2019 in gross merchandise volume (GMV), which the company uses to track transaction volume, on Taobao Live. Reuters

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