Alibaba announces a change in leadership
After near twenty years as executive chairman of one of the world’s biggest internet companies, Jack Ma has announced that he will be stepping down from Alibaba in one year.
Billion $ Business
The Chinese e-commerce business was co-founded in 1999 and made Mr Ma, a former English teacher, one of the richest men in China with an estimated net worth of $36.6bn (£28.34bn). He will remain a permanent member of the Alibaba Partnership and is expected to remain on the board until 2020, citing the reason for his year-long notice as ensuring a “smooth transition”.
The billionaire, who has a reputation for dressing like a rockstar, built Alibaba into an e-commerce giant with over 500 million Chinese customers.
The site is often associated with counterfeit goods in the west, but the sheer scale of the business means that it has become the de facto shopping site for the Chinese looking for anything from building supplies to cosmetics.
They have also diversified into other areas of the digital world, including payments, banking, cloud computing, media and entertainment.
NYSE Listed IPO
The company first listed in New York in 2014 in what was then a record-breaking initial public offering of shares. Reported revenues at the start of 2018 reached $39.9 billion.
In a letter sent to customers and shareholders, Mr Ma said that he is stepping down to pursue philanthropic projects in education.
He also referred to Daniel Zhang, the current CEO who will be taking over his role, saying “teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing to do for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles.”
Mr Zhang has been with Alibaba for eleven years and is credited with launching the company’s Single Day’s promotion, which tops Amazon’s black Friday sale as the world’s biggest online shopping event.
Mr Ma praised Mr Zhang’s “superb talent” and promised, “Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”