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May 20, 2024

Jean Liu Steps Down as President of Didi Global: A Decade of Leadership and Future Vision

Jean Liu, co-founder of Didi Global Inc., has officially stepped down from her positions as president and board director of China’s leading ride-hailing company. This significant leadership change, as detailed in an internal company memo, marks the end of Liu’s decade-long tenure at the helm. Didi, often referred to as China’s answer to Uber, has announced that the role of president will no longer exist within the company.

In her new capacity, Liu will serve as a “permanent partner,” maintaining her responsibilities as chief people officer. This shift allows Liu to focus on Didi’s long-term development, particularly in areas such as talent acquisition and corporate social responsibility, as highlighted in her letter to employees. “I hope that I can focus more on the company’s long-term development in the future,” Liu stated, underscoring her commitment to fostering a sustainable and socially responsible growth trajectory for Didi.

Liu’s journey with Didi is marked by significant milestones and strategic decisions that have shaped the company’s trajectory. Before joining Didi, Liu was a banker at Goldman Sachs, bringing a wealth of financial expertise to the burgeoning tech company. Under her leadership, Didi achieved critical mergers and acquisitions, including the 2015 merger with Alibaba Group-backed Kuaidi and the landmark takeover of Uber’s China business. These moves solidified Didi’s dominance in the Chinese ride-hailing market and attracted substantial investments from global tech giants such as Apple Inc.

However, Liu’s tenure was not without challenges. In 2021, Didi faced intense scrutiny from China’s cyberspace regulator following its attempt to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States without securing the necessary approvals. This regulatory backlash resulted in an inquiry that prevented Didi from onboarding new users and led to the removal of several of its apps from major app stores. The culmination of these regulatory issues was a hefty $1.2 billion fine imposed on the company in July 2022 for data security violations.

Despite these setbacks, Didi began to turn the corner in early 2023 when it was granted permission to relaunch its apps, signaling a gradual recovery from its regulatory woes. This period of recovery aligns with Liu’s strategic focus on stabilizing and future-proofing the company.

Liu’s departure from the president role comes at a critical juncture for Didi, as the company navigates the complex landscape of regulatory compliance and competitive pressures within China’s tech industry. Her new role as a permanent partner is expected to leverage her deep understanding of Didi’s operations and her vision for its future, ensuring that the company continues to innovate and adapt in a rapidly changing environment.

Liu’s legacy at Didi is not only defined by her strategic acumen and leadership but also by her personal connection to China’s entrepreneurial spirit. As the daughter of Lenovo Group founder Liu Chuanzhi, she has continued the family tradition of pioneering in the tech sector, leaving an indelible mark on one of China’s most influential technology companies.

In summary, Jean Liu’s step down as president of Didi Global marks the end of a significant chapter in the company’s history. Her transition to the role of permanent partner signifies a continued commitment to the long-term vision and sustainable development of Didi, as it seeks to navigate future challenges and opportunities in the ride-hailing industry.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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