China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba Group announced this week that it would freeze hiring after its founder said that the company has “grown too quickly.” Jack Ma, the company’s founder and executive chairman, said in a conference call last week that the company would not be adding to its headcount of more than 30,000 employees through the remainder of 2015.
"Alibaba has really developed too quickly,” Ma said, according to a transcript of his speech that was given on April 23. “This year our entire group headcount will not go up by one person.”
The hiring freeze announcement came just two weeks before the company will report its first-quarter revenue and earnings, which is expected to take place on May 7. The company said in January that it had more than 34,000 employees at the end of 2014, up 63% compared with the prior year. The added staff has come aboard as Alibaba has made a number of new investments across several industries – including big data, cloud computing and startups based in the U.S. – to continue building out its business beyond its e-commerce core. During its last full fiscal year, ended March 31, 2014, Alibaba's revenue was up to 52.5 billion yuan and its profit jumped to 23.3 billion yuan. The company is expected to post even higher financials for its 2015 fiscal year, when it announces them next week.
It was also revealed this week that Alibaba has invested in Jet.com, a soon-to-launch online retailer that is hoping to challenge Amazon.com. Alibaba’s investment came as part of Jet’s $140 million round of venture capital injection in February. So far, the company has raised more than $225 million, which Alibaba is a part of.
The investment is another sign that Alibaba intends to heavily compete in the U.S. market. It has a long track record of investing in U.S.-based startups – among them ride-hailing service Lyft, online-shopping service ShopRunner and photo-messaging app Snapchat.