Lazada, e-commerce giant Alibaba’s Southeast Asian subsidiary, has appointed Li Chun as the group’s new chief executive, succeeding Pierre Poignant, with a remit to accelerate the company’s growth via greater localisation and helping companies make better use of their data. Li, who has served as both president and chief executive of Lazada Indonesia over the past three years, will succeed Poignant – a founding member of Lazada – on July 1. Poignant will become a special assistant to Alibaba’s chairman and chief executive Daniel Zhang, according to a company statement on Friday. “Chun is an experienced business leader who can realise Lazada’s vision of unifying commerce with technology to advance Southeast Asia’s digital economy,” said Lucy Peng, Lazada Group chairwoman. Li, who has a dual bachelor’s degree in mechanics and economics law from Peking University and a master’s degree from Ohio State University, joined Alibaba in 2014 as chief technology officer for Alibaba’s business-to-business unit. He was appointed co-president of Lazada in June 2017, before becoming chief executive of Lazada Indonesia last July. Li’s corporate bio describes him as a veteran internet executive with over 20 years experience, with expertise in technology architecture and product strategy. Before working for Alibaba and Lazada, he held executive positions at eBay and InPro Systems. In an internal letter to staff, Li said he was “honoured to be entrusted as the next captain of our Lazada team” and thanked Poignant for his “immense contribution” over the years. “To continue building on our growth momentum, we need a consistent and common strategy to guide our major businesses,” said Li in the letter. “We will double down on our technology investment in this region – our tech prowess is and will remain our key competitive advantage.” Southeast Asia has often been seen as the next big e-commerce market to crack after China, with a population of 650 million who are relatively young and increasingly willing to shop online, reminiscent of China’s consumer demographics less than a decade ago. The region’s internet economy reached an estimated US$72 billion in 2018, more than double that of 2015, according to a joint report released by Google and Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings. E-commerce is the fastest growing sector, expected to exceed US$100 billion in gross merchandise value by 2025 from US$23 billion in 2018, according to the report. Lazada extends e-commerce lead in Southeast Asia Poignant said in an interview late last year that Lazada operates the top e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia. His comments came amid reports that rival platform Shopee, operated by internet company Sea, was making significant inroads in the region. Other regional e-commerce competitors include Bukalapak and Alibaba-backed Tokopedia. Founded in 2012, Singapore-based Lazada served over 70 million unique consumers across six markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam for the twelve months ended March 31, 2020, according to the company. It aims to serve 300 million shoppers by 2030. “There is incredible momentum for e-commerce across the region, and together with our strong local talents, we will step up Lazada’s digital innovation and commercial development,” added Li in Friday’s statement. Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, initially acquired a controlling stake in the firm in 2016 with a US$1 billion investment. The following year, Alibaba put in another US$1 billion in the firm to raise its stake to 83 per cent. In 2018, Alibaba doubled down on Lazada with a US$2 billion investment aimed at accelerating its expansion.