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Alibaba incoming CEO Zhang will focus on mobile

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Alibaba experienced a "very solid" transition to mobile platforms in the last year, incoming CEO Daniel Zhang said Thursday after the Chinese e-commerce giant posted better-than-expected earnings.

Zhang, currently chief operating officer, will become chief executive on Sunday and said he would continue his predecessor's push into mobile and and expansion into new businesses. He replaces Jonathan Lu, who will remain on the board as vice chairman, Alibaba said Thursday.

The company's mobile take rate, or the percentage of people who take some form of action on a website, dipped slightly last quarter due to activity around the Chinese New Year, when much of the country is on holiday, Zhang said. However, in the big picture, Chinese customers and merchants continue to move from personal computers to mobile phones, he said.

"Based on this, we believe the take rate on the mobile side will continue to increase, and we are confident that we can approach that on PC and even higher," Zhang said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

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Earlier Thursday, Alibaba delivered quarterly earnings and revenue that topped analysts' expectations. Gross merchandise volume on China retail marketplaces jumped 40 percent to $97 billion. Mobile GMV continued to grow, accounting for 51 percent of total GMV, up from 42 percent in the December quarter.

Alibaba stock was up more than 7 percent in U.S. trading Thursday. (Click here for the latest price.)

Once he takes the reins, Zhang said, he would focus primarily on upgrading and expanding Alibaba's ecosystem while pursuing opportunities in new areas and businesses.

"Today the new trend is that people like high quality foreign products from other countries, so that's why we started our cross-border initiative one year ago," he said. "We will help the suppliers all over the world to sell their products through our platform to Chinese consumers."

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Alibaba has sought to burnish its image after the Chinese government earlier this year called out the online marketplace for hosting counterfeit goods. Zhang said his company has a zero-tolerance policy for illicit goods and would continue to invest in identifying and removing them from its website.

About two-thirds of Alibaba's sales still come from its consumer-to-consumer marketplace Taobao, where it primarily earns revenue from advertising and marketing services and charges less for marketing on mobile devices than on computers.

Zhang also identified workforce development as one of his primary concerns, saying, "We have to develop our people, our young generations, not only on the leadership level, but also in all levels of the company. That's the foundation that we can continue our growth in the future."

Reuters and CNBC's Reem Nasr contributed to this report.