The Week That Was: A new age for Alibaba


Jack Ma steps aside on Sept 10 as chairman of Alibaba, ending a spectacularly successful 20-year run — AFP

It is the end of an era for Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group as its co-founder and chairman, Jack Ma, stepped down on Sept 10.

Ma, who turned 55 on Sept 10, left his handpicked successor Daniel Zhang to run the US$460bil (RM1.91tril) juggernaut.

Reuters reported that the change in leadership comes at a testing time for the e-commerce business: China’s online retail sales grew just 17.8% in the first half of 2019, down from 32.4% the prior year, according to the national statistics office.

Alibaba CEO Zhang, an accountant by trade and known to be soft-spoken, is a stark contrast to Ma’s flamboyant style and charismatic leadership that made him one of the most recognised Chinese entrepreneurs.

Likewise, his farewell was an over the top affair, with Ma donning a guitar and rock star wig to perform in front of thousands of employees, as part of a four-hour celebration in an 80,000-capacity stadium.

Even the sight of Ma tearing up caused the topic “Jack Ma has cried” to trend on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

Literally taking the stage after Ma, Zhang came clad in rock star garb to deliver a solo performance. Ma’s exit comes as Alibaba has grown to become Asia’s most valuable listed company, with a market capitalisation of US$460bil (RM1.92tril).

It employs over 100,000 people, and has expanded into financial services, Cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

As an introductory special, Digi is offering a Sabah Special Home Fibre and Postpaid bundle until the end of the month. — FilepicAs an introductory special, Digi is offering a Sabah Special Home Fibre and Postpaid bundle until the end of the month. — Filepic

Moving on, Malaysians now have more choices than ever for HSBB (high speed broadband) packages.

Telekom Malaysia (TM) is offering a new 30Mbps (megabits per second) Unifi plan with unlimited data for RM89 a month, which also allows users to view 14 free channels on the Unifi playTV app.

Users on the older 30Mbps Unifi plan with 60GB data cap, which costs RM79 a month, can contact TM if they wish to upgrade to the new plan.

The service provider is also offering better prices for its faster plans: the 300Mbps plan is now RM199 instead of RM279 and the 100Mbps plan with Unifi TV Ultimate pack is RM159 instead of RM189. These plans don’t have a data cap.

Singaporean Internet service provider ViewQwest has also jumped into the fray, offering a 100Mbps plan in the Klang Valley and Johor Baru, with the aim to go nationwide by this year.

This follows a deal with TM to get on the National HSBB network, which allows ViewQwest to offer its plans in many more areas.

The plan doesn’t have a data cap and the pricing depends on the choice of WiFi router and length of contract.

The plan with an Asus RT-AC1200G+ router with a 24-month contract costs RM138 monthly but drops to RM128 for those who opt for a 36-month contract.

Internet users in Sabah also have more options now that the Digi Home Fibre broadband plans are available in the state.

The four monthly plans include Digi Home Fibre 50Mbps for RM99, 100Mbps for RM129, 500Mbps for RM159 and 1Gbps for RM199. The plans come with unlimited data.

As an introductory special, Digi is offering a Sabah Special Home Fibre and Postpaid bundle until the end of the month.

Subscribers will get a lifetime rebate between RM10 to RM20 a month when they pair a selected postpaid plan with a broadband plan. For example, the 1Gbps plan which is RM199 will be discounted to RM179 for the bundle.

The Home Fibre plans come with free installation, free home router and a 24-month contract. However, subscribers have to be living in an area with Digi Home Fibre coverage.


   

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