Peng Lei, co-founder of Jack Ma-led Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, is going to join the board of mobile wallet operator Paytm, it is learnt.
Alibaba and Alipay, which operates the Chinese e-tailer's third-party online payment platform, are to invest $575 million for a cumulative 40 per cent equity in Paytm, a company owned by Noida-based One97 Communications. Peng would join Paytm's board of directors as a member once the investment had been completed, a source said.
To Business Standard's queries on this, an Alibaba spokesperson said in an e-mailed response: "As a matter of company policy, we do not comment on market rumours and speculation." Paytm Chief Executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma declined to comment.
Peng, also known as Lucy Peng, 43, joined Alibaba in 1999 as a member of the founding team. From January 2010 to February 2013, she was the chief executive of Alipay. In March 2013, she took over as CEO of Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services Group. Since June 2014, Peng has been the chief people officer of Alibaba Group Holding.
Born in Hanzhou and a business management graduate from Zhejiang Gongshang University (1994), Peng started as a teacher at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, where she served for five years. Three years after she started teaching, she married Sun Danyu, whom she divorced for a short period and then remarried. Danyu is among the 19 founders of Alibaba. Peng quit teaching shortly after marriage to join her husband and Jack Ma in founding Alibaba, in September 1999.
Referred to as Ma's right hand, Peng was described in the Chinese press as responsible for "sustaining the development of Alibaba's corporate infrastructure and the preservation of corporate culture, amid the company's accelerating growth". In early 2010, she had to step into a bigger role because Alipay, according to reports, needed a guardian angel. Alipay became the most successful payment gateway in China, valued at around $60 billion at the end of 2014. Then, it was the micro financing division of Alibaba that reached a valuation of about $50 billion under Peng's guidance.
Paytm's Sharma aims to widen the mobile wallet's current user base of 20 million to 100 million by 2016. Peng, who helped Alipay expand to 800 million users, is likely to prove an experienced guide as Paytm scales up.
'MA'S RIGHT HAND'
Snapshot of Peng Lei's career
1994: Starts as a teacher at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics
Sep 1999: Joins her husband Sun Danyu, and Jack Ma, in founding Alibaba
Jan 2010-Feb 2013: CEO of Alipay. Under her, Alipay became the most successful payment gateway in China. It was valued at around $60 billion at the end of 2014
Mar 2013-May 2014: CEO of Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services Group, which reached a valuation of about $50 bn under her guidance
- Since June 2014: Chief people officer of Alibaba Group Holding