Jack Ma, co-founder of China’s largest e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, will be stepping down as chairman in exactly a year’s time on 10 September 2019.
Ma will officially pass the baton to CEO Daniel Zhang on his 55th birthday next year, but will remain on the board until 2020.
He will also continue to mentor senior management as part of an advisory board called the “Alibaba Partnership”.
Beyond that, he intends to focus on philanthropy and education now, but will also pursue “new dreams”.
“No company can rely solely on its founders,” Ma said in a letter to customers, employees and shareholders.
“Because of physical limits on one’s ability and energy, no one can shoulder the responsibilities of chairman and CEO forever.”
Ma adds that he has spent the last 10 years preparing for his succession plan, working to identify and develop the right talent inside Alibaba.
Zhang A Capable Replacement
Zhang joined Alibaba in 2007 and held a range of senior management roles before taking over from Ma as CEO in 2015.
With regards to the succession, Ma said that he will “work closely with Daniel to ensure a smooth and successful transition”.
“Starting the process of passing the Alibaba torch to Daniel and his team is the right decision at the right time, because I know from working with them that they are ready.”
“Since he took over as CEO, he has demonstrated his superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership.”
Zhang has proven his capability by pulling off mega-events such as the annual Singles’ Day bonanza on 11.11.
Alibaba’s stock has surged 87 per cent over his tenure, and it now has a market value of about US$420 billion, which supersedes rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.
Jack Ma Is One Of China’s Richest
Ma, who co-founded Alibaba in 1999, is one of China’s richest people with a net worth of US$36.6 billion, according to Forbes.
An investment from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. helped the company expand to allow consumers in China buy online, fuelling the company’s rise.
Through the Taobao and Tmall platforms, it is responsible for billions of dollars in sales and it saw daily package deliveries reach 55 million last year.
A former English teacher with no technical background, Ma is seen as an icon of self-made wealth, making him China’s highest profile business leader.
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