Alibaba's Lazada appoints Chun Li as new CEO
Lazada, the Southeast Asian arm of Chinese e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding <BABA.N>, said on Friday it would replace its chief executive officer, as it battles for dominance in the fast-growing market.
Lazada Group Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Pierre Poignant will be replaced by Chun Li, a former Alibaba executive, who is currently Lazada co-president and head of its Indonesia operations, the company said in a statement.
Reuters reported the move earlier on Friday, citing sources. Two people with knowledge of the matter said the reshuffle is due to the e-commerce firm's middling performance.
Lazada has struggled to fend off rivals like the Singapore-headquartered SEA's e-commerce arm Shopee, which is backed by Alibaba rival Tencent, for control of the fast-growing market of 650 million consumers.
The firm said Li would work to improve "Lazada's competitive advantage through data technology application and business localisation", and Lazada had seen "healthy growth" under Poignant.
Lazada said it had over 70 million users in the year to the end of March.
Poignant had himself replaced Lucy Peng, an Alibaba co-founder, who stepped down as CEO after nine months in 2018 although she remains executive chairwoman. Lazada said Poignant will now become a special assistant to Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Daniel Zheng.
Alibaba has long had struggles with managing Lazada, a company it owns 90% of after investing $3 billion since 2016, with employees highlighting a long-running culture clash with management from China.
According to VentureCap Insights, Lazada received a $1.2 billion injunction from Alibaba this year. It was not clear what the injunction related to and Lazada did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Three sources told Reuters Lazada is also examining whether to rebrand or shut down LazMall, its take on Alibaba's Tmall marketplace.
James Sullivan, who headed Lazada Logistics, would also step down, two people said. Sullivan was not immediately reachable for comment, but his LinkedIn profile indicated he left Lazada in April.
NUS and NTU launch cooling project for tropical data centres
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have announced a project in an attempt to source and develop new cooling solutions for data centres located in tropical areas. According to the companies, the programme costs S$23mn (US$17.1mn) and plans to research, build and test innovative and sustainable cooling solutions.
The Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT)
The NUS and NTU say that the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) will act as a research point and innovation hub for the project. Facebook, along with the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), is also involved, providing funding for the programme. Further support from other partners includes the Infocomm Media Development Authority, Ascenix, CoolestDC Keppel Data Centres, Red Dot Analytics, and New Media Express.
Commenting on working with the companies, Facebook Vice President of Infrastructure, Alex Johnson, said: “We are excited about the opportunity to partner NUS, NTU, Keppel Data Centres and the CoolestSG community to develop innovative solutions that reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of the average data centre, particularly those located in tropical areas like Singapore”.
The NTU and NUS highlight that Singapore houses 60% of Southeast Asia’s total data centre market, and aims to supply 12% of the country’s total energy needs by 2030. This results in the need to reduce the carbon footprints and power consumption of data centres, meaning more innovative cooling solutions are required, the NTU and NUS said.
Professor Chen Thuan, Deputy President of Research & Technology at the NUS, said: “Data centres are a critical enabler of the digital economy, but the average data centre can exert a significant environmental burden. Aligned with RIE 2025, sustainability is a key research focus of NUS, and our researchers have deep expertise in developing integrated solutions for tropical, urban and Asian settings”.
How will the Sustainable Tropical Data Centre Testbed (STDCT) help to provide cooling solutions?
According to the NUS and NTU, the STDCT will be built using equipment such as a novel desiccant-coated heat exchanger and a StatePoint Liquid Cooling System (SPLC) designed by both Nortek Air Solutions and Facebook. The institutions also say they will adopt chip-level hybrid cooling to ensure servers remain cool.
Furthermore, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) will aim to manage the “smart operations” of the technologies so that the data centres are water and power efficient, as well as able to preserve equipment and servers.
The NTU and NSU said in a joint statement the combination of the cooling technologies could reduce energy consumption “significantly” and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25%, compared to traditional air-cooled data centres. If adopted industry-wide across the entire tropical region, the energy usage of the data centre industry could potentially be lowered by at least 40%”, the companies said.
The STDCT is expected to be operational by 1 October 2021.