Alibaba tech chief says it’s looking far beyond retail

Alibaba is perhaps best known in Seattle and the U.S. as one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world and an international rival to Amazon.com. But Alibaba’s chief technology officer, Jeff Zhang, says it is also one of the best big data companies in the world, with a scale of business that generates vast amounts of data and tentacles that reach into everything from social media to financing and payment, navigation to digital entertainment. “That’s our competitive edge compared to other technology companies,” Zhang said to a crowd of about 300 engineers, most Chinese-speaking, at the Westin Bellevue Saturday afternoon. “We have different kinds of data,” drawing not only from Alibaba Group’s own e-commerce platforms (including the Taobao consumer-to-consumer shopping site and TMall business-to-consumer site) but also companies it…


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