Skip to main content

Jack Ma, the charismatic co-founder of China’s largest e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, will step down as chairman in exactly one year on Sept. 10, 2019, the company said.

Current Alibaba Chief Executive Daniel Zhang will replace him as chairman, while Ma will complete his current term on Alibaba’s board of directors following the company’s annual general meeting in 2020.

Ma, who turned 54 on Monday, relinquished the role of chief executive in 2013. Zhang, 46, has been in the job since 2015 after serving as chief operating officer and is known as a key architect of Alibaba’s “Singles Day”, the Nov. 11 event that has become the world’s largest online shopping event.

Story continues below advertisement

“Under his stewardship, 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.

Zhang will also retain the CEO title, the company said.

Ma, who co-founded Alibaba in 1999, is one of China’s richest people with a net worth of $36.6 billion, according to Forbes. The company has grown to have more than 66,000 full-time employees and a market value of some $420-billion.

Ma said that after he steps down from his current roles he will continue to mentor management as part of the “Alibaba Partnership”, a 36-member group of core company managers.

The group has the ability to nominate the majority of directors on the company’s board.

A former English teacher with no technical background, Ma has a large popular following in China and is seen as an icon of self-made wealth.

He is also known for his eccentric personality and has donned wigs and costumes to perform highly choreographed pop routines at company events. Last year he starred alongside Chinese action star Jet Li in a short kung fu film.

Story continues below advertisement

Since handing over the CEO role, Ma has concentrated on philanthropy and promoting Alibaba internationally at business and political events.

Last year Ma invested 300 million yuan ($45 million) in a rural education project in China. He has also established a scholarship program in Newcastle, Australia.

Ma, who also controls Alibaba payment affiliate Ant Financial, is stepping back amid more challenging times for Chinese tech companies as sales growth in China’s eastern mega-cities shows signs of slowing.

Alibaba maintained robust revenue growth in the first half of 2018, but its profit margins have been squeezed by big-ticket investments as it battles to maintain pole position in payments and e-commerce.

Report an error
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter