Alibaba’s Jack Ma to step down

From the September 2018 issue.

China-based e-commerce and technology conglomerate, Alibaba, has announced that as of September 10 2019, CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed Jack Ma as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group.

Ma will reportedly continue as executive chairman of the company over the next 12 months to ensure a smooth transition of the chairmanship to Zhang.

Ma will complete his current term as a member of Alibaba Group’s board of directors until its annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020.

Ma is a lifetime partner in the Alibaba Partnership and is a member of its partnership committee. The Alibaba Partnership is currently comprised of 36 partners who are also members of senior management of Alibaba Group or its affiliates. Pursuant to the articles of association of Alibaba Group, the Alibaba Partnership has the right to nominate a majority of the directors to the board of the company.

“This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped up to the next level of corporate governance from a company that relies on individuals, to one built on systems of organisational excellence and a culture of talent development,” Ma said in a letter addressed to customers, shareholders and employees, explaining that a sustainable Alibaba would have to be built on sound governance, culture-centric philosophy and consistency in developing talent. “Having been trained as a teacher, I feel extremely proud of what I have achieved. Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing to do for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles so that they inherit our mission “to make it easy to do business anywhere.”

Ma adds that the since the founding of the company in 1999, it has been the view of Alibaba’s future will need to depend on “droves of talent” to enable it to iterate on management succession plans.

“After years of hard work, today’s Alibaba has a world-class talent pool in quality and quantity. 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.

“Daniel has been with Alibaba Group for 11 years. Since he took over as CEO, he has demonstrated his superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership. Under his stewardship, Alibaba has seen consistent and sustainable growth for 13 consecutive quarters. His analytical mind is unparalleled, he holds dear our mission and vision, he embraces responsibility with passion, and he has the guts to innovate and test creative business models.

“Deservedly, China’s business news media has named him the number one CEO in 2018. For these reasons, he and his team have won the trust and support of customers, employees and shareholders. 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, and I have complete confidence in our next generation of leaders.”

Ma plans to continue his role as a founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership and may return to education.

Last month, Alibaba, and US-based coffee company, Starbucks, announced a partnership to transform China’s coffee industry.

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