Alibaba’s co-founder and executive chairman, Jack Ma is officially stepping down as Alibaba’s executive chairman on Tuesday, September 10. He has celebrated his retirement with a big bash at an Olympic-sized stadium in the company’s hometown of Hangzhou.
The Official Retires Announcement
A year ago, Alibaba Group announced its CEO, Daniel Zhang, will succeed Ma as chairman in the following year after Jack Ma stepped down as chairman. Then, Ma will stay on the company’s board until its annual general shareholders’ meeting next year. And he still retains a 6.22% share of the company.
After that, Jack Ma will remain a lifetime partner of the Alibaba Partnership, or a group of 36 partners drawn from the senior management ranks of Alibaba Group companies and affiliates. They hold a considerable amount of sway over the company because they have the right to nominate. Even in certain situations, they can appoint up to a simple majority of its board of directors.
This retirement makes Jack Ma become one of the first founders among a generation of prominent Chinese internet entrepreneurs to step down from their companies. Some giant firms like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, and JD.com have flourished in recent years. They are growing to nearly rival American internet behemoths like Amazon and Google in their size, scope, and ambition. For these Chinese tycoons, to step aside in their 50s is really rare. Usually, they will remain at the top of their organizations for many years.
Alibaba: The House Jack Ma Built
As a natural salesman and charismatic leader, Jack Ma co-founded Alibaba with 17 others out of his apartment in Hangzhou in eastern Zhejiang province in 1999. Initially, Alibaba was an online marketplace for businesses to sell their products to other businesses. However, it did not take off until it began the Taobao marketplace in 2003. Taobao is a marketplace where merchants can sell goods directly to consumers. used to sell goods directly to consumers.
Later, the company rolls out Alipay, an online payment service, to facilitate transactions in a country where few people had credit cards. Then, Alipay became Ant Financial, the financial subsidiary that Mr. Ma also controls.
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Today, Alibaba has become a giant empire in many fields including e-commerce, online banking, cloud computing, digital media and entertainment and even a corporate messaging service similar to Slack. Plus, the company owns or holds stakes in some of China’s most important media assets. For example, the most popular social media in China, Weibo was owned by Alibaba. Another example is the Hong Kong-based English-language newspaper The South China Morning Post.
It can be said that Jack Ma was a person, who has written the beautiful story of Alibaba. Ma said in last year’s announcement that he plans for his departure from Alibaba Group to be very gradual: “The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”
Life After Alibaba
“Before I’m 70 years old, I can do something in other fields, in areas like education,” Ma said at an Alibaba event last September.
Besides being China’s most famous entrepreneur and the country richest man with a fortune of nearly $40 billion, Jack Ma also a former English teacher. Therefore, he has the nickname “Teacher Ma”. He often talks about his passion for education in many interviews and talk shows. One special thing that the day Ma chose to formally step down, September 10, is Teachers’ Day in China. It’s also Ma’s 55th birthday.
Ma said in last September that “Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing … for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles,”
In an interview with Bloomberg TV this week, Jack Ma said that he wants to devote time to education philanthropy. In 2014, he created the Jack Ma Foundation. Over 10 years, this foundation has pledged $45 million to improve education in rural China.
Also in the interview, Jack Ma cited the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates as an example. He said that he could never be as rich as Mr. Gates but that he could retire earlier than Mr. Gates.
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