Alibaba reinforces ecommerce crown with Sun Art acquisition
Chinese tech giant Alibaba has expanded its ecommerce empire with the acquisition of fellow Chinese supermarket Sun Art Retail Group.
Alibaba’s main businesses are its ecommerce site Alibaba.com, Taobao and Tmall, but its interests are vast, stretching from electronic payments to AI and numerous other services.
Alibaba has put $3.6bn into the deal, which will see it acquire 70.94% of Sun Art, raising its total stake to approximately 72%.
The dela builds on an earlier alliance that saw the digitalisation of stores as part of its “New Retail” vision, which involves digitalised customer experiences and a focus on omnichannel approaches, a of modern retail environments.
In a press release, Daniel Zhang, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Alibaba Group, said: “Alibaba’s strategic investment in Sun Art in 2017 was an important step in our New Retail strategy. The alliance we formed with Auchan Retail and Ruentex was instrumental in building a robust infrastructure to create opportunities and value in China’s retail sector. Led by Chief Executive Officer Peter Huang, Sun Art has achieved impressive results in its digitalization, and pursued promising synergies with businesses across the Alibaba digital economy. As the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the digitalisation of consumer lifestyles and enterprise operations, this commitment to Sun Art serves to strengthen our New Retail vision and serve more consumers with a fully integrated experience.”
Zhang succeeded the company’s former leader Jack Ma, and has kept a lower profile than his predecessor. Ma is well known as one of China’s richest people, and bowed out of the company last year with at the company’s 20th birthday event.
Alibaba is fast approaching its Singles Day sale, the most lucrative of its kind on the planet. Last year, the gross merchandise volume came to , dwarfing that made by western competitors such as Amazon with its Prime Day sale.
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”