Joseph Tsai to be Chairman of Alibaba, supports cryptocurrency.

On Tuesday, Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) announced that Joseph Tsai, one of its founders, will become the Chairman of the company in September. The company also appointed Eddie Yongming Wu as its new CEO as it reorganizes itself into multiple units, separating its technology services from retail divisions. However, those bullish on the China narrative regarding crypto might be paying close attention to this move as Tsai is a vocal proponent of crypto and an active Web3 investor. Having someone like him at the top of such a large institution in China could signal that Alibaba is positioning itself to embrace the new reality of Web3 and crypto in China, if that day comes.

Joe Tsai Likes Crypto

In December 2021, Tsai first announced his interest in the Web3 space with a short tweet: “I like Crypto.” Since then, he has been an active investor in the space. Blue Pool Capital, which Tsai uses as his family office, was a minority shareholder in FTX, participating in two of its fundraising rounds. He has also been involved in better-known investments, such as Polygon’s February 2022 round, Web3 fantasy sports platform Fast Break Labs fundraise, and NFT platform Artifact Labs’ May 2023 round, which was a spin-off of the South China Morning Post, where he serves as chairman. Tsai also owns the Brooklyn Nets, which has seen two of its key players, Kevin Durant and Spencer Dinwiddie, get involved in crypto.

But Does China Like Crypto?

While Tsai’s interest in crypto is clear, whether China is warming up to crypto remains to be seen. Hong Kong has put forward a list of crypto rules to allow for licensed trading of digital assets in the territory, but critics say that these rules are overly restrictive and make the market unattractive to most serious institutions. Banks have been reluctant to get on board, with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority having to pressure some of the largest names in finance to bring on crypto clients. In the rest of the country, digital assets on the blockchain are embraced as long as they don’t have crypto. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are allowed, provided they don’t have any speculative attributes. Alibaba’s Alipay restricted sales of NFTs until the user had held them for 180 days in 2021. Beijing defines Web3 as an internet enhanced by artificial intelligence, blockchain, faster computing chips, and more resilient networks. It’s the third version of the internet, not something synonymous with crypto. Alibaba might be preparing its executive team for crypto in China, or this could simply be a reorganization of executives with one of its founders at the top.

Edited by Parikshit Mishra.