Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is freezing hiring for the rest of the year because it has grown "too quickly", chairman Jack Ma Yun told staff. "Alibaba has really developed too quickly … this year our entire group headcount will not go up by one person," Ma said, according to a transcript of the April 23 speech carried on Alibaba's official messaging app Laiwang. Ma said the company would replace employees who leave. "When one leaves, we'll bring one in," he said. Alibaba is due to report first-quarter earnings next Thursday. In January, Alibaba, which handles more online commerce than Amazon and eBay combined, reported slowing revenue growth. Headcount had been growing quickly at Alibaba. At the end of last year, it had 34,081 employees, a 63 per cent increase from a year earlier, the company said in January. As long as gross merchandise volume was under 10 trillion yuan (HK$12.49 trillion), headcount should be below 50,000, Ma said. A headcount of "over 30,000" was already enough for now, he added. Gross merchandise volume in the fourth quarter of last year was 787 billion yuan, a 49 per cent increase from the same quarter in 2013. For the whole year, it totalled about 2.3 trillion yuan. Ma also said that Alibaba would consolidate its businesses into seven segments - e-commerce, Ant Financial, Cainiao logistics, big data and cloud computing, advertising, cross-border trade and other internet services. Ant Financial's Alipay is the mainland's dominant online payment platform and it also oversees the mainland's largest money market fund, Yu E Bao, which expanded by 23 per cent in the first quarter. Yu E Bao saw its assets under management rise 132.8 billion yuan from the end of last year to 711.7 billion yuan at the end of last month, Bloomberg reported last week, citing a report issued by the manager of the fund, Ant Financial's Tianhong Asset Management.