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Jack Ma Announces He Will Leave Alibaba Next Year
Jack Ma will step down as chairman of Alibaba Group next year and be succeeded by chief executive officer Daniel Zhang, the company said in a press release.
The succession plan calls for Ma to step down on Sept. 10, 2019. Ma will also serve out his term on Alibaba Group’s board of directors until the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in 2020.
Ma, a former English teacher who co-founded Alibaba from his apartment 19 years ago, said in a letter announcing his retirement that he is leaving “to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do.” With an estimated net worth of $40 billion, Ma is one of the richest people in China.
In his letter, Ma said he’s been preparing this succession plan for a decade.
“This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organizational excellence and a culture of talent development,” he wrote.
Zhang has been with Alibaba for 11 years and succeeded Ma as CEO in 2013. Ma said that one of the goals of the company was to ensure that it could continue to thrive after he left.
We asked ourselves this question 10 years ago – how could Alibaba achieve sustainable growth after Jack Ma leaves the company? We believed the only way to solve the problem of corporate leadership succession was to develop a system of governance based on a unique culture and mechanisms for developing consistent talent and successors. For the last 10 years, we kept working on these ingredients.
Having been trained as a teacher, I feel extremely proud of what I have achieved. 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 so that they inherit our mission “to make it easy to do business anywhere.” Carrying out this mission in order to help small businesses, young people and women around the world is my passion. This is not only our intent from day one but I feel blessed to have this opportunity. To realize the dream behind this mission requires participation by a lot more people than just Jack Ma and persistent effort by generations of Aliren.
Ma has helped build Alibaba into a $420-billion business since co-founding it 19 years ago. You can read his full letter here.
Photo: Alibaba Group