JD.com, an e-commerce company, announced that Richard Liu Qiangdong, its founder and chief executive officer, has been transferred to Xu Lei as the latest example of a Chinese tech billionaire withdrawing from day-to-day operations.
Xu, with more than 10 years at the company, will also join the board as an executive director, while Liu remains as chairman where he will “continue to focus on guiding the company’s long-term strategies, mentoring younger management, and contributing to the revitalization of rural areas”, JD.com said in a statement
Liu is among a number of high-profile Chinese tech founders who have stepped back from the daily operations of their companies to dilute the so-called “key man risk” amid a regulatory crackdown in China’s internet sector. Others include Colin Huang Zheng from Pinduoduo, Kuaishou Technology’s Su Hua, and Zhang Yiming, the founder of TikTok owner ByteDance.
Xu has held various senior roles during his decade-plus time at JD.com, including CEO of JD Retail, chief marketing officer of the company, head of JD Wireless, and head of the marketing department. As the president of JD.com, he was responsible for operations and the collaborative development of various business units.
Recent layoffs at the firm triggered an outcry when it was revealed on social media that the termination letters sent to dismissed employees said “congratulations on your successful graduation” from the company, although the phrase is default content that applies to everyone who leaves, including those who resign voluntarily.