Alibaba's Jack Ma to step down in September 2019

Andrew Burton  Getty Images

Andrew Burton Getty Images

Jack Ma, the charismatic co-founder of China's largest e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, will step down as chairman in exactly one year on September 10, 2019, the company said. Ma will officially pass the baton on his 55th birthday next year but remain on the board until 2020.

The group has the ability to nominate the majority of directors on the company's board, and now five of Alibaba's eleven board members have been nominated by the partnership. Announcing his succession plan, Jack Ma wrote a letter to Alibaba's customers, employees and shareholders.

A former chief financial officer who studied economics, Zhang isn't expected to rival the showmanship of Ma, who effortlessly generates newsworthy quotes, and who has donned a variety of wild costumes to dance and sing at his company's meetings and at festivals.

"Starting the process of passing the Alibaba torch to Daniel and his team is the right decision at the right time, because I know from working with them that they are ready", Ma said in the statement.

At the time, Mr Trump hailed Jack Ma as a "great, great entrepreneur, one of the best in the world", who loves both the United States and China.

Alibaba's diversified portfolio in India include investments in digital payments platform Paytm, in Cloud computing via Alibaba Cloud, in the digital media space via UCWeb and several innovation initiatives that makes the country an attractive destination for the Dollars 420-billion conglomerate. "There's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates".

The group has the ability to nominate the majority of directors on the company's board.

Ma is moving on with Alibaba in a dominant position in China and pushing into overseas markets from Southeast Asia to Russian Federation.

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But he has also said in the past that he isn't happy being the wealthiest person in China, where vast personal fortunes have only emerged in recent years and are subject to intense scrutiny. Last year, it reported $39.9 billion in revenue. "Globalisation is one of our key strategies for Alibaba".

"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 a year ago.

"The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba", Ma added.

Ma hired Zhang from Chinese gaming giant Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd.in 2007 - an episode Ma handled with kid gloves because Shanda's founder was a longtime friend and prominent entrepreneur.

Zhang, with his "unparalleled" analytical mind and guts to innovate and test creative business models, will drive the multinational firm forward, said Ma.

Other members include Eric Jing, chief of Alibaba payment affiliate Ant Financial [ANTFIN.UL], Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba, Simon Hu, chief of Alibaba Cloud, and Lucy Peng, who heads Alibaba's Southeast Asia business.

While he plans to continue his role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership, he now wants to return to what he "loves to do" - education. Ma said that over the years, the company has experimented with and improved on the right balance between systems and individuals.

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