This is part of Alibaba’s effort to focus on core businesses.
The closure may impact quantum computing research in China.
Chinese tech giant Alibaba has closed down its quantum computing laboratory, housed within the DAMO Academy, the company’s research arm. The lab and its 30 employees will be donated to state-run Zhejiang University, a significant player in scientific research in China.
Alibaba’s DAMO Academy, established in 2017, has been a hub for cutting-edge technology research, particularly in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Despite closing the quantum computing lab, a spokesperson for DAMO Academy emphasized the firm’s continued commitment to being a leader in AI research.
The closure of the quantum lab marks a shift in Alibaba’s internal structure, with the company previously announcing plans in March to split its business into six units and spin off its cloud division. However, the recent scrapping of the cloud division spin-off led to a significant market value loss of $20 billion for Alibaba.
This decision is seen as part of Alibaba’s broader effort to streamline operations and focus on core businesses. The newly-appointed CEO, Eddie Wu, has indicated that each business unit within Alibaba will operate more independently in the market. Strategic reviews are underway to distinguish between “core” and “non-core” businesses, reflecting the company’s evolving strategy.
Zhejiang University, the recipient of the quantum lab and equipment, is expected to absorb the affected employees into its own quantum research initiatives. This move by Alibaba represents a departure from its earlier role as one of the pioneers in quantum computing technology investment in China, signaling a reevaluation of priorities within the rapidly evolving tech landscape.
Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares experienced a more than 2% decline following the announcement, highlighting the market’s reaction to the company’s internal restructuring efforts. The closure of the quantum computing lab is likely to spark discussions within the tech industry about the shifting priorities of major players and the future trajectory of quantum computing research in China.
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