According to sources close to the situation, Alibaba Group has hired Google’s head of investor relations to do the same for the Chinese Internet giant.
Jane Penner will be named a VP and head of investor relations. Sources said Alibaba announced the move in an internal memo today and will announce the appointment later today.
She will be based in San Francisco, where a number of top Alibaba execs will be located. That includes the May hiring of Jim Wilkinson, a former PepsiCo exec, as SVP of corporate affairs, which includes international strategy and communications. Wilkinson was also a senior adviser in the George W. Bush administration.
These moves are an indication of Alibaba’s intention to focus on bringing top talent to interface with Wall Street, which will be important for the Chinese company that has garnered a lot of attention worldwide and from regulators here, too.
It’s no surprise, as Alibaba has grown into an e-commerce juggernaut and the attention has been heightening since it is expected to go public sometime after Labor Day. Investors are expecting it to be one of the largest IPOs in history, with analysts estimating that it could be valued at between $150 billion and $200 billion initially.
Penner came to Google in 2008 from Bear Stearns. Interestingly, she has an MA and a BA in English and a background in journalism; she was an early top editor for TheStreet.com.
Here’s a video of Penner talking about that shift from the humanities to Google’s investor relations job in a speech at Stanford University: