Sat, Jan 19, 2019 - Page 12 News List

Alibaba postpones hiring, cuts travel spending

Bloomberg

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) is cutting its spending on travel and postponing some new hiring as China’s largest e-commerce company braces for a slowing economy, people familiar with the matter said.

Some new hires were told they cannot start until the new fiscal year begins in April, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private.

The travel cuts include restricting business-class airfares on a unit-by-unit basis, with staff only able to select a premium cabin on every fifth round trip that takes more than 20 hours, one of the people said.

The trade dispute with the US is casting a bigger shadow over China, with the macroeconomic slowdown hitting everything from hardware manufacturers to the world’s biggest start-up Bytedance Ltd (字節跳動), which is said to have barely hit its revenue target for last year.

Beijing has also played a role.

The nation has faced the biggest digital crackdown in history over the past year or so, with everything from games to streaming platforms censored and sometimes banned.

A sudden freeze on game licenses threw the industry into disarray and slashed US$200 billion from Tencent Holdings Ltd’s (騰訊) value at one point.

Hiring by China’s technology companies plummeted by a fifth in the final quarter of last year as the nation’s largest corporations grappled with mounting economic uncertainty, according to a study of national job ads released yesterday.

The number of IT and Internet positions advertised nationwide fell by 20 percent in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier, according to a report from Renmin University and the nation’s largest jobs Web site Zhaopin.com (招聘).

The drop was most pronounced in the Internet and online gaming sectors, where ads slid 23 percent and 30 percent respectively.

Last year marked the first time China’s giant IT and Internet sector — led by Tencent and Alibaba — has cut back on job ads since 2015, the study showed.

“The changing macroeconomic situation, a stream of regulatory improvements and the end of easy profit generated from large traffic volumes have ended the monstrous growth of the Internet industry and has gradually returned it to a more reasonable level,” the report said. “New Internet companies need to innovate to find new areas of growth.”

When asked about any potential job cuts, Alibaba said it is always investing in talent and hunting for the right people.

“Long-term strategic planning and continuous upgrades of our talent pool are central to Alibaba’s future,” the company said in an e-mail.

Analysts have already started to predict a slowdown for China’s technology sector as business confidence deteriorates and consumer spending ebbs.

Morgan Stanley estimates revenue among the nation’s Internet stocks it covers would grow 29 percent on average this year — dipping below 30 percent for the first time since at least 2015.

Economists see growth in China slowing to an annual pace of 6.2 percent this year, the weakest pace since 1990.

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