The anti-Uber alliance is turning into a family reunion of sorts.
Didi Kuaidi announced today that Jerry Yang, one of the original founders of Yahoo, will become a “senior advisor” at the Chinese Uber competitor, and will also act as “board observer.” The announcement, which seems aimed at winning over potential investors, brings Yang into the upper echelons of one of China’s fastest-growing internet companies.
But Yang’s ties to Didi Kuaidi can be traced back to the nineties, as he has long-standing relationships with other companies it is affiliated with.
In 1996 Yahoo partnered with Japanese telecom company Softbank to launch Yahoo Japan as a regional joint venture. Softbank then invested in Yahoo directly, at one point becoming its major shareholder. Softbank’s investment in Yahoo Japan later grew to be worth $8.6 billion.
In 2005, Yahoo invested $1 billion in Alibaba in exchange for a 30% stake. Softbank was also an early investor in the e-commerce company, and Yang sits on the board of Alibaba with Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, alongside Jack Ma and longtime Alibaba VP Joe Tsai (both he and Yang are Taiwanese).
Yang also joined the board of Lenovo as an observer in early 2013, and obtained voting rights more than a year later. Any other role at Lenovo isn’t clear, though Kara Swisher of Re/Code reports he helped the company acquire Motorola from Google.
And Softbank is also a major investor in Didi Kuaidi, GrabTaxi, and Ola.
Didi Kuaidi’s senior ranks are filled with talent from this family. Didi Kuaidi’s founder is Cheng Wei, who worked at Alibaba for eight years before starting Didi Dache, the pre-merger predecessor to Didi Kuaidi. Didi Kuadi’s President, meanwhile, is Jean Liu—a former investment manager at Goldman Sachs in China, who is the daughter of Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi.
There’s a black sheep in every family, however. Not long after Didi Kuaidi completed its merger, Jean Liu’s cousin, Liu Zhen, was hired by Uber.