Published: Wed, September 11, 2019
Economy | By

Jack Ma Officially Steps Down as Alibaba Chairman

Jack Ma Officially Steps Down as Alibaba Chairman

Jack Ma, the self-made Chinese business magnate with a net worth of almost $42 billion and founder of the online shopping giant Alibaba, has officially retired from the company he started. His departure marks the completion of his plan to pass the reigns of the company onto a successor.

Zhang's appointment and Ma's exit fall on the same day as the company's 20-year anniversary.

Ma's retirement announcement a year ago sparked off speculation that he may be stepping down due to prevailing business environment in China. "Challenges from globalization, China-U.S. trade frictions and worries about the new technologies are all sending a signal that a new era is on the horizon", Ma said.

With a starting fund of 500,000 yuan (about 70,000 US dollars), Ma founded Alibaba in a residential community in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, on September 10, 1999, together with his 17 partners.

Ma, who turned 55 on Tuesday, announced last year that he would retire within a year, with the company CEO Daniel Zhang taking over as the Chairman of the board. He will continue serving on Alibaba's board until its annual general shareholders' meeting next year and will a lifetime partner of Alibaba Partnership. The former English teacher has said he now plans to turn more towards philanthropy, with a focus on education.

"I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do", Ma wrote previous year.

Popular Ma-related hashtags on microblogging platform Weibo have included "Jack Ma's last day at work" and "Jack Ma has at least 12 identities", which references the fact that though he's stepped down as chairman of Alibaba, he's still officially the company's "employee 001", head of a charity fund, a UN Sustainable Development Goals Advocate and so on.

After building the Alibaba empire Jack Ma will be focusing on philanthropy.

Attributing the company's success to the good fortune which came from its desire to promote the progress of society and help small enterprises and employees grow, Ma said he was lucky to find a competent team.

"Today isn't about Jack Ma retiring but the beginning of a succession system", he said.

Alibaba is one of a group of companies - including Tencent Holding Ltd (騰訊), search engine Inc (百度) and e-commerce rival Inc (京東) - that have revolutionized shopping, entertainment and consumer services in China. Ma's Hangzhou apartment in 1999 is where it all began for Alibaba. Ma resigned as Alibaba's CEO on May 10, 2013.

"The thing is, I don't want to die in my office".

In 2014, the company invited merchants, service staff and customers to ring the bell on its initial public offering New York Stock Exchange instead of executives or investors.

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