Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of China’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group, disclosed the names of 27 people who will make up the company’s “inner circle.” The company boasts that one-third of this inner circle is female – and all are partners in the firm. Preparing for an IPO this year which could raise more than $20 billion (to take place either on NYSE or Nasdaq), Alibaba also disclosed the names of members of its new board (with new profit and revenue numbers). You might call this the inner inner circle–and there aren’t any women here: the nine-member list is all male.
So who is on the board? Men with strong North American ties are well represented. It’s no surprise to find Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang on the list – Yahoo! was an early financier of Alibaba. J. Michael Evans, the former chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific is there, too. With degrees from Princeton and Oxford, an Olympic gold medal in rowing, and about $230 million of Goldman Sachs stock in his portfolio, Evans will bring a lot to the table. As will politician Tung Chee Hwa. He was in charge during the transfer of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997. As the first head of the new Hong Kong government, he proposed a number of infrastructure projects including a deal with Michael Eisner to develop Disneyland Hong Kong which includes a Main Street, USA, almost identical to the one in Anaheim. It really is a small world after all. Even smaller for women, in Alibaba’s case.