Jack Ma, co-founder of Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba, is set to step down from his role as executive chairman of the firm exactly one year from today, setting his sights on a return to education having trained as a teacher.
Ma, 54, will be replaced at the top of the company by Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang on 10 September 2019 – the company’s 20th anniversary. Until then, Ma will continue in his role, taking care of business to ensure a smooth transition. In addition, Ma will remain a member of the firm’s board of directors until its annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020.
“I have put a lot of thought and preparation into this succession plan for ten years,” said Ma in a letter to Alibaba customers, employees, and shareholders. “I am delighted to announce the plan today thanks to the support of the Alibaba Partnership and our board of directors. I also want to offer special thanks to all Alibaba colleagues and your families, because your trust, support and our joint enterprise over the past 19 years have prepared us for this day with confidence and strength.”
Zhang, a former accountant, has been with the company for 11 years – serving as its CEO since 2015. He is acknowledged as being one of the key players behind Alibaba’s ‘Single Day’ event, held annually on 11 November. Zhang will continue in his role as CEO.
“Since he took over as CEO, he has demonstrated his superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership. Under his stewardship, Alibaba has seen consistent and sustainable growth for 13 consecutive quarters,” said Ma.
“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, and I have complete confidence in our next generation of leaders.”