You are here: Home » PTI Stories » National » News
Business Standard

Alibaba founder Jack Ma to step down in 2019, names company CEO as successor on 54th B'day

Press Trust of India  |  Beijing 

Jack Ma, one of China's richest men, announced on Monday he would step down as Alibaba's next year as he unveiled an unprecedented succession plan on his 54th birthday, naming the e-commerce giant's as his successor.

Ma will remain Alibaba's during the year-long period to ensure a "smooth and successful" transition, and stay on as an Alibaba until a shareholder' meeting in 2020, Hong Kong-based Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba, reported.

Ma will hand over the keys of his company to 46-year-old in an unprecedented succession plan that will slowly take the focus off one of China's most recognisable corporate names over the next 12 months, report said.

Zhang will be promoted to the on September 10, 2019, while Ma remains a on Alibaba's board and a of the Alibaba Partnership, according to a letter written by Ma to all staff including to

"This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped into the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organisational excellence and a culture of consistent talent development," Ma said in his letter.

The succession plan being announced on his birthday on Monday came after confusing reports about Ma's retirement.

The New York Times, which interviewed him, reported on Saturday that Ma planned to use his 54h birthday to announce his retirement to devote his time to philanthropy focused on education.

The report of his retirement came as a surprise, especially in the circles as the NYT report said Ma was relinquishing as China's environment had soured, with the government and state-owned enterprises increasingly playing more interventionist roles with companies.

The NYT report was quickly denied by Alibaba whose told on Saturday that Ma remains the company's executive chairman and will provide transition plans over a significant period of time.

"story was taken out of context and factually wrong," the daily quoted the as saying.

Ma, who grew from an English to China's top billionaires making Alibaba into USD 420 billion company, always took care to not ruffle feathers of the ruling Communist Party of

He took care not to project himself bigger than the CPC leadership though he has emerged as modern China's most revered corporate icon.

"Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but will forever belong to Alibaba," Ma said in the letter.

The plan, announced on Ma's 54th birthday, took 10 years to put together. It owed its inception to Alibaba's formative years, long before the forayed into cloud computing, cashless payments, artificial intelligence and Hollywood movies, the Post report said.

"This is merely the beginning of a succession strategy of creating a step ladder to groom the next generation of managers," Joseph P H Fan, co-of the and at the said.

"Jack Ma's halo is too bright, and outshines whoever's under him, so he needs to fade out. But for a company of Alibaba's size, it's a process that will take 10 years to complete," he said.

Zhang was known to Alibaba employees as "Xiaoyaozi" (free and unfettered one), the name of a character from a Louis Cha wuxia novel, the Post report said.

Since Zhang, known as Zhang Yong in mainland China, was named in May 2015, "Alibaba has seen consistent and sustainable growth for 13 consecutive quarters.

"His analytical mind is unparalleled, he holds dear "our mission and vision, he embraces responsibility with passion, and he has the guts to innovate and test creative models," Ma said.

"I've worked closely with Daniel since 2007 when he first joined us as of Taobao," said Joseph Tsai, Alibaba's who was the company's chief until 2013.

"On intellect and energy, I can barely keep up with him. But it's his thoughtfulness and humility that is most impressive as a leader," he said.

Zhang had previously served as Taobao's chief financial officer, of and as Alibaba's before succeeding as

The billionaire started in 1999 as a business-to-marketplace with 17 co-founders in his apartment turning the company into a global with burgeoning and package delivery businesses.

Alibaba's sprawling businesses also include brick-and-mortar stores, online video, movies and other enterprises, and it has sought to expand in promising new markets like and

It has since moved into cloud computing, digital payments, health care, Hollywood movies and backing China's startups. Its share price has more than doubled since its record 2014 initial public offering.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, September 10 2018. 13:50 IST