Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba has hired ex-Goldman Sachs vice-chairman Michael Evans as its new president, charging him with leading its global strategy. Evans is a board member of the company and has known Alibaba founder Jack Ma for over a decade. Looking to cater to Chinese consumers’ growing demand for imported goods, Evan’s will be in charge of building partnerships with brands and retailers from Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Alibaba’s end goal is to become the world’s first truly global e-commerce company. Towards that end they will need to enable consumers to buy from foreign companies with less delay and cost than has been possible in the past. Currently, it can take two weeks for products to travel from a U.S. distributor to China.
Evan’s new role of luring the business of foreign brands to Alibaba’s online platform, may be difficult with the prevalence of counterfeit goods available through the e-commerce giant. French firm Kering is currently suing Alibaba in New York to that effect, stating that Alibaba’s practices constitute “racketeering.” Kering currently owns such brands as Gucci, Puma, and Yves Saint Laurent. cosmetics firm Sephora also recently snubbed Alibaba during the opening of its first online store in China by choosing to do business with its rival, JD.com.
Alibaba has come back saying that it has revamped the process for removing counterfeit goods from online marketplaces by reducing the time it takes to review complaints, in addition to using designated representatives for each brand that signs up for the program. Alibaba currently spends $16 million a year to combat counterfeit items on its online markets.
Following its record-breaking IPO in New York last year of $25 billion, the company’s stock has had a lackluster year. With an experienced Wall Street executive such as Evans, Alibaba may be able to woo back investors that may be reconsidering. Evans’s prior experience includes 20 years at Goldman where he served as Chairman of their Asian division and head of Global Growth Markets. He will continue to serve on Alibaba’s management board.