Alibaba's Ma to step down in September 2019, Zhang to become chairman

11 September, 2018, 00:45 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • Jack Ma founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group attends an award ceremony for rural teachers organised by the Jack Ma Foundation in Sanya Hainan province China

Alibaba Group says its co-founder, Jack Ma, will quit as the retail giant's chairman in one year, when he'll be replaced by current Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang.

Jack Ma was a cash-strapped Chinese entrepreneur and former English teacher when he convinced friends to give him $60,000 to start a Chinese e-commerce firm called Alibaba in 1999.

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. The Hurun Report, which follows China's wealthy, estimates his net worth at 37 billion U.S. dollars (£28.65 billion).

The company's $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 was the biggest to date by a Chinese company.

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Mr. Ma said he will remain Alibaba's executive chairman during the year-long period to ensure a "smooth and successful" transition, and stay on as an Alibaba director until a shareholder' meeting in 2020.

The Post's story, which was published after the Times', also includes a quote from Ma, who said: "I sat down with our senior executives 10 years ago and asked what Alibaba would do without me.I'm very proud that Alibaba now has the structure, corporate culture, governance and system for grooming talent that allows me to step away without causing disruption". The co-founder of China's e-commerce juggernaut plans to leave the company next year.

E-commerce sales in China rose 32.2% past year to 7.2 trillion yuan, accounting for 20% of total retail spending.

Odd are the ways in which tech honchos function: News about a change of guard came via his interview on Friday with The New York Times - at a time when US-China trade war is at its zenith - and not from Alibaba itself.

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Zhang, 46, has been in the job since 2015 after serving as the company's chief operating officer. Zhang served as president of Alibaba's consumer-focused Tmall.com business unit.

Ma fought back by launching Taobao, an eBay-style consumer-to-consumer site. In recent years, that goal has seemed more and more attainable for the retailer, which is now valued at more than $420 billion.

The opportunities are huge for the current $35 billion Indian e-commerce sector which would be worth over $100 billion by 2022 - with a growth of around 25 per cent from the current level - a joint PwC-Nasscom report said on Friday.

Hence, Ma's suggestion to his successor could be to focus on India as it is not yet saturated like China. That service later became instrumental in helping fix Alibaba's image, and the US removed the company from its "Notorious Markets" list in 2012 (though it re-joined in 2016). Along the way, he hived off a payments service in controversial fashion, creating the $150 billion online finance giant Ant Financial.

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In the letter on Monday, Ma said he had been planning his exit for ten years and has previously said he wants the company to last 102 years, choosing a specific number to motivate employees. It said the total value of goods sold across all of its platforms rose 28 percent over 2016 to 4.8 trillion yuan ($768 billion). The dispute was later resolved by Alibaba, Yahoo and Softbank.

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