Just now (evening of 12 March 2020), an internal note in Ant Group sent shockwaves.
It is announced that Simon Hu, CEO of Ant Group, has resigned to pursue “social and charitable projects” in the Ant ecosystem.
Hu had been on the post for slightly over a year, taking over from Eric Jing, previous CEO who later became Chairman.
Upon assuming the CEO post, Hu, who had experience developing the international business of AliCloud prior to returning to Ant, made a few adjustments to the international strategy.
However, the Ant CEO post proved to be a hot seat. Hu was among the trio (the others being Jack Ma and Eric Jing) summoned by regulators prior to the suspension of Ant Group’s mega IPO.
What is curious is the date of this announcement – 12 of March is the National Tree Planting Day of China (i.e. Arbor Day).
Ant Group has been known for its Ant Forest programme, using incentives (“green energy points”) to nudge consumers’ behaviour towards a carbon neutral future. It is one of the key apps on Alipay’s Super App interface, under the “education and charities” category:
Just earlier today, Ant Group announced its pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2030:
A nice way for Simon to transition away from the hot seat, and pass the (hot) baton back to Eric Jing?