Alibaba Shuts Down Quantum Computing Lab, Donates Assets to Zhejiang University
Alibaba has shut its quantum computing laboratory, disbanding the associated research team from its DAMO Academy research initiative.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has officially closed its quantum computing laboratory, disbanding the associated research team from its in-house research initiative, DAMO Academy.
The company announced today that it has donated the quantum computing lab and its experimental equipment to China’s Zhejiang University, signaling a shift in focus amid broader restructuring efforts, as reported by Reuters.
Alibaba launched the Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook (DAMO) in 2017 to focus on both foundational and disruptive technology research including data intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), fintech, quantum computing and human-machine interaction.
Within those broad research areas, the labs focus on topics such as machine learning, network security, visual computing, and natural language processing.
A spokesperson for Alibaba’s DAMO Academy stated that, despite the closure of the quantum computing lab, the academy remains steadfast in its commitment to technological innovation, with a continued emphasis on AI research.
This move aligns with Alibaba’s vision to maintain a leadership position in the rapidly evolving landscape of artificial intelligence (AI).
The quantum computing lab closure is reported to impact approximately 30 employees, representing a relatively small fraction of Alibaba’s extensive research and development team. Sources familiar with the matter have disclosed that affected personnel are likely to be considered for recruitment by Zhejiang University, where they could contribute to the university’s burgeoning quantum research initiatives.
Alibaba‘s Business Restructuring Plans
This development is the latest in a series of internal transformations at Alibaba. In March 2023, the company said the biggest restructuring in its 24-year history would see it split into six units – Cloud Intelligence Group, Taobao Tmall Commerce Group, Local Services Group, Cainiao Smart Logistics Group, Global Digital Commerce Group and Digital Media and Entertainment Group.
The revamp announced then, came a day after Alibaba founder Jack Ma returned home from a year-long stay abroad, a move that was linked with Beijing‘s effort to spur growth in the private sector after two years of crackdown.
However, the strategy was subsequently revised. Just recently, the intended spin-off of Alibaba’s cloud division was abandoned. The newly appointed CEO, Eddie Wu, has outlined a vision for each business unit to operate more independently in the market.
Wu emphasized the need for strategic reviews to distinguish between “core” and “non-core” businesses within Alibaba’s portfolio. The closure of the quantum computing lab underscores the company’s adaptability in a highly competitive tech landscape, showcasing a willingness to realign resources for strategic advantage.
As Alibaba faces these internal shifts, industry analysts are keenly observing how these changes will impact the company’s trajectory in emerging technologies and its overall positioning in the global tech arena.
On the other side, the donation of quantum computing assets to Zhejiang University adds an intriguing dimension to the narrative, as the affected employees may find new opportunities to contribute to groundbreaking research in quantum computing within an academic setting.
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