(Yicai Global) Dec. 25 -- E-Commerce China Dangdang, one of China's earliest online retailers, has highlighted co-founder Li Guoqing's diminishing role in the company after he passed comment via social media on JD.Com Chief Executive Richard Liu's discarded rape case in the United States.
Li left the company's management and decision-making teams earlier this year, Dangdang said in a statement yesterday, adding that it had requested Li not to use the company logo on his social media account. Li's remarks are his own opinions, the firm continued, asking the public not to let his words sour their appetite for Dangdang.
"It wasn't sexual assault, just extramarital sex, harmless to shareholders and employees," Li said on Twitter-like Weibo yesterday, three days after the United States prosecutor said Liu, a father of two, had consensual sex with the student he was accused of sexually assaulting. "It wasn't an extramarital affair, just sex, low impact to his wife."
The public was quick to condemn Li and Dangdang following the comments, and more than 9,000 comments have been made on his Weibo post to date, the majority of which criticize his opinion.
The Dangdang statement sparked public curiosity about who is actually in control of the retailer -- commercial data shows that Li's wife Yu Yu owns the majority of the firm's operator Beijing Dangdang Kewen E-Commerce, 64.2 percent, while Li has a 27.5 percent stake. When Dangdang went public in the US in 2010, Li held 38.9 percent of the company's shares and Yu held just 4.9 percent.
Dangdang was once a big hit among international investors, including US-based International Data Group, but the inconsistencies in Li and Yu's management styles have bogged the company down, and it now lags well behind industry leaders JD.Com and Alibaba Group Holding.
Li has been slowly losing his grip on the company over the years, and in January the firm reshuffled its executives and gave Li charge of only its public utilities department, shunting him from head of its main business unit. He has changed his Weibo profile picture as per the company request, but still introduces himself on the platform as Dangdang's founder and an investor of blockchain and education enterprises.
Editor: James Boynton