Alibaba’s chairman Jack Ma finally retires
SHANGHAI: Jack Ma steps down next week as chairman of Alibaba, but the start-up he built into an online retail behemoth is expected to keep thriving into a new era thanks to a culture of innovation he helped nurture.
A former English teacher whose often playful image shattered the stereotype of the drab Chinese executive, Ma officially leaves on Tuesday, his 55th birthday.
Ma will continue serving on Alibaba’s board until its annual general shareholders’ meeting next year. He also remains a lifetime partner of Alibaba Partnership, a group drawn from the senior management ranks of Alibaba Group and affiliates that has the right to nominate (and in some situations, appoint) up to simple majority of its board.
Jack Ma said in last year’s announcement that he plans for his departure from Alibaba Group to be very gradual: “The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”
Ma left Alibaba’s CEO position in 2013 and was succeeded first by Jonathan Lu. In 2015 Lu was replaced by Zhang, the company’s former COO. As its CEO and now its chairman, Zhang has taken Alibaba’s reins as it copes with a slowdown in China’s e-commerce market after a decade of explosive growth. The online retail landscape also now includes new player like Pinduoduo, which have gained an advantage by focusing on smaller cities, important growth markets for Internet companies.