Widely regarded as one of the most important business leaders in China, Daniel Zhang has his fingerprints all over the e-commerce giant Alibaba. A founding member of Alibaba Partnership – a structure adopted in 2010 to help steer Alibaba's strategic direction – Zhang has since risen to become the company's Chairman, CEO, and Director.
Among his numerous milestones at Alibaba, Zhang is credited with transforming an obscure holiday in China —Singles’ Day — into the world’s largest online-shopping festival, generating a record $38.4 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2019. Under his leadership, Alibaba has expanded into new markets, such as Southeast Asia; and has invested heavily in areas such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Zhang also helped create the world’s first multi-channel supermarket consumers can shop on their smart phones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Zhang's vision as a leader helped keep supply chains running during a massively disrupted economy. In 2020, Zhang's acumen as an executive earned him a spot on Time's 100 most influential people in the world list.
Over the years, Zhang has held several senior positions at Alibaba. He first joined the company as Chief Financial Officer of Taobao Marketplace in 2007. A year later, he assumed the additional role of General Manager for the business-to-consumer retail website Taobao Mall; and became president when it was rebranded as Tmall.com in 2011. By 2013, Zhang found himself in the Chief Operating Officer role, where he became known for his strategic thinking and focus on innovation, which has helped to keep Alibaba at the forefront of the e-commerce industry.
Earlier in his career, Zhang was an auditor at Arthur Andersen, before moving to Shanda Interactive Entertainment, an online gaming company, in 1999. He also spent a few years as a senior executive of PricewaterhouseCoopers in a Shanghai. Born in 1972, Zhang graduated from the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics with a degree in finance.
On top of his many Alibaba duties, Zhang is a member of the WEF International Business Council, the co-chair of the board of Consumer Goods Forum, and the co-chair of the China board of the Consumer Goods Forum.
Interestingly, Alibaba employees pick nicknames for themselves when they first join the company. Zhang's nickname is "Free and Unfettered Person," which speaks to the expansive growth his company continues to enjoy with him at the helm.