Jack Ma, the Co-founder of Alibaba Group Holding Limited, a Chinese multinational holding conglomerate that specialises on e-commerce, retail, Internet, AI, and technology, has announced that he will be stepping down as the company’s Executive Chairman. Before the year runs out, Jack Ma will be handing the company’s reins to Daniel Zhang, who became Chief Executive Officer barely three years ago.
The Chinese billionaire made the announcement of his retirement during his 54th birthday, capping a storied two-decade career during which the former English school-teacher built Alibaba into one of China’s most celebrated corporations.
Why Ma chose Zhang as his successor
Ma hired Zhang from Chinese gaming giant, Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited in 2007. Zhang is known more as a financial mind than a technology visionary in Ma’s mold.
Since his recruitment, the 46-year-old certified accountant has been the driving force behind a mandate to transform old-school commerce using technology that is dubbed “New Retail.”
More so, the Shanghai-educated executive has proven a capable operator, designing and pulling off mega-events such as the annual Singles’ Day shopping bonanza. The company’s stock has risen 87 percent over his tenure and Alibaba now has a market value of about $420 billion, eclipsing WeChat operator Tencent Holdings Limited.
Ma’s early withdrawal, according to analysts, has revolutionised how and what China’s people consume. Analysts also said Ma’s departure will challenge Alibaba to carry on Ma’s vision amid rising competition.
“Jack Ma’s CFOs don’t make good CEOs, but Daniel is an exception.
“The challenges will be how Alibaba can expand outside of Asia”, said Kim Eng Securities analyst Mitchell Kim.
Founded in 1999, the company provides a consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via web portals, as well as electronic payment services, shopping search engines, and cloud computing services.
In addition, Alibaba owns and operates a diverse array of businesses around the world in numerous sectors, and is named as one of the world’s most admired companies by Fortune magazine.