Published On: Tue, Sep 11th, 2018

Alibaba founder Jack Ma to step down in 2019

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma announced on Monday he would step down as head of the pioneering Chinese e-commerce giant in one year, a departure already drawing comparisons to the retirement of late Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Analysts said the early withdrawal of the 54-year-old Ma, who became the charismatic face of a company that has revolutionised how and what China’s people consume, will test the company’s ability to carry on Ma’s vision amid rising competition.

But like Apple’s transition to current boss Tim Cook, Alibaba CEO and anointed successor Daniel Zhang may be less magnetic than his predecessor but has proven an able steward since effectively taking the operational reins years ago, they said.

“Day-to-day operations-wise Alibaba will not be affected that much. But since he’s (Ma) the face of the company, people may lose a little bit of faith,” said Jackson Wong, associate director with Huarong Securities in Hong Kong.

“But where Jobs died, Ma is expected to stay on in an advisory role, so there shouldn’t be too much impact.”

Ma — who turned 54 on Monday — said in a statement that he will stay on as executive chairman until his 55th birthday before handing over that role to Zhang.

“While remaining as executive chairman in the next 12 months, I will work closely with Daniel to ensure a smooth and successful transition,” Ma said.

Ma, who has expressed a desire to follow in the philanthropy footsteps of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, said he would remain on Alibaba’s board until 2020.

“The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba,” he said.


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