Yahoo may have finally reached a deal this past September to sell a 40% stake in China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba for $7.6 billion, but with a 23% stake left in Alibaba, it’s not out of there altogether yet. Today, Alibaba announced that Jacqueline Reses, EVP of people and development at Yahoo, is the latest Yahoo to join Alibaba Group’s board of directors.
Third time lucky? Yahoo is entitled by its shareholding agreement to appoint one person to the board at Alibaba, out of a total of four. But as a mark of how unstable things have been over in Sunnyvale, she’s actually the third person to occupy the position in the space of a year. She replaces Tim Morse, Yahoo’s former CFO who left in September, not long after Marissa Mayer took over as CEO. Tim, meanwhile, had replaced Jerry Yang, who left Yahoo and also left the Alibaba Group board at the same time back in January 2012.
To complement Yahoo’s own ups and downs in its business and executives, there’s been a lot of drama and tension around Alibaba trying to wrest control of itself away from Yahoo. Today, however, Jack Ma, Alibaba’s outspoken chairman and chief executive, was all sweetness and light.
“Today’s announcement underscores Alibaba’s strong relationship with Yahoo!,” he said in a statement. “We are pleased to welcome such an experienced and respected executive like Jackie, who brings a wealth of strategic insight and operating experience to the Alibaba board.”
Reses, as background, was hired by new Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer back in September as executive vice president of people and development. She’d also in the past headed up Apax Partners’ U.S. media group and worked at Goldman Sachs in M&A.
As one of the Mayer’s first executive hires, she (at least in name) is a crucial part of the company’s rebuilding strategy. Part of her remit includes “global talent acquisition” as well as business development globally. That’s seen some significant developments already, from further executive appointments to a couple of key acqui-hires (just one yesterday, in fact, of OnTheAir, a service that competes with Google’s Hangouts and Microsoft’s vision of Skype-as-social-network).
Today’s appointment indicates that her rebuilding remit may also stretch to relationships with existing companies in Yahoo’s investment portfolio.
Despite its huge sell-off, Yahoo still owns about 23% of Alibaba Group common stock on a fully dilated basis. Yahoo paid only $1 billion for its Alibaba stake in 2005, but the value ballooned as Alibaba’s star continued to rise, a fact that did not go unnoticed by disgruntled shareholders nor Alibaba itself.
Reses joins Alibaba executives Jack Ma and Joe Tsai, as well as Masayoshi Son, the CEO of Japan’s SoftBank, on Alibaba’s board.