Brands are everything to retailers, and Alibaba has found one that should do wonders for its marketability: Goldman Sachs. The Chinese e-commerce group has hired former investment banking stalwart Michael Evans to grow its overseas business. It's bad practice, since Evans had already been an independent director since Alibaba floated last year - but good politics.
Canadian rowing champ Evans, who took home a gold medal in 1984, may not be ideally equipped to run an online retail platform, but he knows about hard selling. Evans ran Goldman's Asia business for almost 10 years, starting in the year the Wall Street outfit opened its brokerage business in the People's Republic. In that capacity he helped pick up and schmooze clients like Alibaba founder Jack Ma.