Alibaba CEO Suggests Yahoo! Break Into Smaller Bits

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ADOTAS – Alibaba Group CEO Jack Ma said at All Things Digital’s D9 conference that Yahoo! should break itself down into a smaller, more-focused units.

“If running a big company isn’t easy, than make it smaller,” he intones. What should Yahoo! focus on? “What they believe in.” Hmm… That’s not vague.

Wait a second — isn’t that what CEO Carol Bartz, Ya’s arch-nemesis, has been doing under the guise of streamlining since she took over?

Ma is subtly suggesting he wants Yahoo! to divest its 43% share of Chinese e-commerce network, which Yahoo! isn’t very interested in doing since Alibaba is a revenue driver.

There was a great deal of hubbub of late as Alibaba shifted its Alipay payment platform to Ma’s ownership without Yahoo!’s apparent knowledge. Ma discusses what happened in the video, suggesting a purely practical move was escalated into a scandal by a headline-hungry media — since Yahoo! tends to be the big tech media’s punching bag, that’s not a stretch.

The incident succeeded in making Bartz look bad, though Ma actually praises her in the video, suggesting that reviving Yahoo! is not a task for the faint of heart. Indeed, Yahoo! Executive Chairman, cofounder and ex-CEO Jerry Yang — who should get the most credit for turning Yahoo! into an inflated, directionless ball of gas — serves on Alibaba’s board and reportedly was informed about the Alipay move…. At the least, he should have been the first at Yahoo! to know.

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