Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba confirmed on Monday (10 September) that Jack Ma would step down as executive chairman of Alibaba Group in a year, handing over the reins to current CEO Daniel Zhang in September 2019. Reports of his retirement surfaced at the start of September in China’s business media and was all but confirmed by Ma in an interview with The New York Times. However, the news didn’t seem to impact the company’s share price, as Alibaba is one of the few Chinese companies to have made clear succession plans and to have already shared significant responsibilities with professional management. Ma, who co-founded the company in 1999, ceased to be CEO in 2013. He will continue on the board of directors until 2020 and remains a lifetime member of the 36-member Alibaba Partnership, which nominates company directors. Ma said this week he has “lots of dreams to pursue” including working in education again. Before founding Alibaba, Ma was a teacher.
Under his leadership, “Alibaba has seen consistent and sustainable growth for 13 consecutive quarters… Starting the process of passing the Alibaba torch to Daniel and his team is the right decision at the right time,” Ma said in a letter released by the company. Alibaba has grown to have more than 66,000 full-time employees and a market value of c. $410bn.