Jack Ma officially steps down as executive chairman of Alibaba
10 September 2019
Billionaire Jack Maa, co-founder of Alibaba, has officially stepped down as the e-commerce giant’s executive chairman. Ma said in the morning that he was leaving the company, on his 55th birthday.
Alibaba, which he co-founded in 1999, has become one of the world's biggest internet firms. Ma's success and colourful style has made him one of China's most recognisable businessmen.
Alibaba is now valued at $480bn (£389bn), which made Ma China's richest man, with a net worth of $38.6bn according to Forbes.
Daniel Zhang, currently Alibaba's chief executive, will replace him as executive chairman.
“No company can rely solely on its founders. Because of physical limits on one’s ability and energy, no one can shoulder the responsibilities of chairman and CEO forever,” Ma has said in a letter to Alibaba customers, employees and shareholders in 2018. He had also spoken enthusiastically about working in other fields like education “before he turned 70”.
Ma, however, is expected to continue serving on Alibaba’s board until its annual general shareholders’ meeting next year, reports said, adding that Ma will also remain a lifetime partner of Alibaba Partnership.
It may be noted that Alibaba has been expanding its chip-making capabilities for a few years now. In 2018, the company acquired Hangzhou C-SKY Microsystems Co, Ltd, an integrated circuit design house, in a bid to increase its own chip-making capability. Earlier this year, Alibaba’s semiconductor chip subsidiary, Ping-Tou-Ge launched its first product, Xuantie 910 also known as T-Head in the Alibaba cloud conference in Shanghai which is a powerful RISC-V (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor.
Jack Ma is perhaps the first among prominent Chinese internet entrepreneurs to step down from his company.
Born to a poor family in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou, Ma began his career as a teacher.
He bought his first computer at the age of 33 and was surprised when no Chinese beers turned up in his first online search for "beer".
With no background in computing, Ma co-founded Alibaba in his apartment, having convinced a group of friends to invest in his online marketplace.
Incidentally, Alibaba was his third attempt after two failed attempts at founding a company.
Alibaba has, over the years, grown from an online marketplace into an e-commerce giant with interests ranging from financial services to artificial intelligence.