Longstanding Alibaba executive and pop culture icon Gao Xiaosong has left his role as director of Alibaba Music, according to company data publicly available via the Chinese company information site Tianyancha.
He exited Tuesday, the same day that the Wall Street Journal reported that the Chinese government has asked Alibaba Group to sell off or reel in its sprawling assortment of media assets. Authorities were reportedly concerned over the scale of the tech giant’s media holdings and its ability to influence public opinion.
Gao is one of the most popular entertainment figures and culture-focused public intellectuals in China, having been a successful singer-songwriter, music producer, talk show host and director, among other things. He is also a longtime friend of Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma. He joined Alibaba Music as chairman in 2015 when it was launched.
Alibaba consolidated its entertainment and digital media sector in June 2016, pulling together Alibaba Music, Alibaba Pictures, Alibaba Sports, streamer Youku Tudou, Alibaba Literature, and others under a more cohesive banner.
Gao shifted out of the Ali Music role to become chairman of the Alibaba Entertainment Strategic Committee soon afterwards in September 2016, where he focused on international expansion.
“Mobile media and entertainment business is central to Alibaba Group’s future growth strategy, with music being a crucial pillar of the group’s digital entertainment strategy,” head of business at Alibaba Entertainment and Digital Media Yu Yongfu said of his appointment to the role at the time.
But Gao was also heavily involved on the film side, spending time in Los Angeles looking for co-production partners and outfits to invest in. He represented Alibaba at the Academy Awards in 2018. The Alibaba co-produced “Green Book” had won best picture.
In October 2019, Gao was formally listed as having stepped down as chairman and legal representative for Alibaba Music, but stayed on as a director, according to Tianyancha. Company data showed Tuesday that he is no longer director, either. It did not clarify if he still as a different role at Alibaba.
In 2019, he assured local media that he hadn’t left Alibaba entirely, stating then: “I will not leave in the future, either.”