Published: Mon, September 10, 2018
Money | By Bruce West

Alibaba founder Jack Ma to retire

Alibaba founder Jack Ma to retire

The co-founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba and one of China's best-known businessmen, Jack Ma, is stepping down.

"An Alibaba spokesman said Ma remains the company's executive chairman and will provide transition plans over a significant period of time", the SCMP wrote. Ma will continue as executive chairman of the company over the next 12 months to ensure a smooth transition.

The group has the ability to nominate the majority of directors on the company's board. "Globalisation is one of our key strategies for Alibaba".

As the Indian e-commerce space flourishes - with Walmart's acquisition of Flipkart and Amazon pouring in millions of dollars - recent media reports indicated that Ma has plans to invest into Reliance Retail Ltd which, if true, will see Alibaba have physical presence and a bigger retail clout in India.

Speculation is that the Co-founder of the $420 Bn internet company, Jack Ma has chose to move out of the company to pursue philanthropy in education.

Ma made the announcement on 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, running eBay Inc. out of the country and relegating the unfamiliar position of also-ran.

"Ma possesses an enviable clarity about how everything fits together", said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing company China Skinny.

"The reason is because I think e-commerce has a bright future and it's just at the beginning", Zhang told Alibaba's news site past year.

Alibaba is awesome not because of our business or scale or accomplishments.

His fingerprints are on some of the company's most successful moves: he was a key architect of Alibaba's "Singles Day", the November 11 event that has become the world's largest online shopping festival. In fact, since I handed over the CEO's responsibilities in 2013, the company has run smoothly for five years on the back of these institutional ingredients. The teacher in me feels extremely proud of our team, our leadership and our unique mission-driven culture, as well as the fact that we continue to develop exceptional business leaders and professional talent like Daniel Zhang.

Ma has described Zhang as having "superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership".

He is retiring at a time when Chinese manufacturers and businesses are facing enormous challenges from the U.S. trade war with China. But he has as recently as last week spoken to news outlets about wanting to pursue philanthropic efforts ー including improving educational access and systems and developing young entrepreneurs. "Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle", he said.

He added that the partnerships system Alibaba developed is a "creative solution" to good governance and sustainability, as it overcomes several challenges faced by companies of scale.

"The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things - because what if new dreams can be realized?!"

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jack Ma says he wants to return to education because this is what he "loves to do". His appointment holds some irony: Ma often said he wasn't fond of professional managers because of a focus on short-term performance.

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