Alibaba's Jack Ma to Step Down in a Year

Not retirement Jack Ma to unveil succession plan

With an aim to connect Chinese entrepreneurs with the world, Ma - who was a teacher in English and global trade at a university in Hangzhou - about 180km southwest of Shanghai, founded in 1999 the e-commerce platform Alibaba.com, which rose to become one of the largest companies in the world.

"No company can rely exclusively on its founders", Ma wrote in an open letter today, the billionaire's 54th birthday, the 19th anniversary of Alibaba's founding, and Teacher's Day in China.

Zhang, a former accountant, has worked at Alibaba Group for 11 years and is credited with establishing the e-commerce giant's Singles' Day event and for being one of the key driver's behind Alibaba's new retail strategy.

"We don't know much about [Mr Zhang] even though he's been CEO for a while, because he's by nature a very low-key person, low profile". China's richest man has become synonymous with a company he helped found in his apartment almost 20 years ago and has used the chairman's post to develop managerial talent since ceding the CEO's role in 2013.

"We believed the only way to solve the problem of corporate leadership succession was to develop a system of governance based on a unique culture and mechanisms for developing consistent talent and successors", his letter read.

Zhang will be promoted to the executive chairman on September 10, 2019, while Ma remains a director on Alibaba's board and a permanent member of the Alibaba Partnership, according to a letter written by Ma to all staff including to the Post. "All these things that I've been preparing for 10 years". I watched him give a pep rally to new management recruits, and it was tough to tell who was more enthusiastic, them or him. He said he preferred it to the gaming business because it's "more relevant to the people's daily life".

"There isn't a face or name more recognizable globally that represents the rise of China's internet and its consumers than Jack Ma", said Tanner.

Other members include Eric Jing, chief of Alibaba payment affiliate Ant Financial [ANTFIN.UL], Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba, Simon Hu, chief of Alibaba Cloud, and Lucy Peng, who heads Alibaba's Southeast Asia business.

The next year, Alibaba faced its biggest threat when eBay acquired EachNet, which had 80 percent of China's small retail e-commerce market. Instead, he stressed how proud he is of the company's bright future. "Since he took over as CEO, he has demonstrated his superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership", wrote the Alibaba pioneer.

Zhang has overseen 13 consecutive quarters of growth, since assuming the chief executive role, and was crowned the countries number one CEO by Chinese media in 2018.

Zhang, with his "unparalleled" analytical mind and guts to innovate and test creative business models, will drive the multinational firm forward, said Ma.

"As for myself, I still have lots of dreams to pursue". When I interviewed him previous year, for example, he said he'd been thinking about retirement since he turned 45 and that eventually younger people deserve a shot to lead.

The charismatic Mr Ma, who is known for dressing like a rock star, said he wanted to return to education.

I never thought that this thing would change my life.

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