Alibaba chairman Jack Ma to step down in 2019: company

2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference

Mr Zhang will become executive chairman on 10 September 2019, the company said in a statement.

Alibaba is heralding the end of the Jack Ma era.

A devotee of Chinese martial art form Tai Chi, Ma started Alibaba in 1999 from his modest apartment in Hangzhou, the capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, with 17 other people (remember that Jeff Bezos started Amazon from a garage in Seattle).

He bought his first computer at the age of 33 and was surprised when no Chinese beers turned up in his first online search for "beer".

After he steps down, he will continue to mentor management as part of the "Alibaba Partnership", a 36-member group of core company managers.

The opportunities are vast 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.

He owns almost 9% of Alibaba, which is now worth $420bn. Its share price has more than doubled since its record 2014 initial public offering.

One of China's biggest tech titans is stepping down. I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do.

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.

He said he wanted to dedicate more time to philanthropy through the Jack Ma Foundation.

Last year Ma invested 300 million yuan ($45 million) in a rural education project in China.

Alibaba didn't immediately return request for comment.

Like Bill and Melinda Gates, who are often seen in India on various charity tours, we may also see Ma more in the country to fulfill his philanthropy goals, but his days at the helm have already helped Alibaba realise the potential the India market has beyond China.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jack Ma pledged to help create a million United States jobs after a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump.

"This transition demonstrates that Alibaba has stepped into 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 consistent talent development", Mr. Ma said in his letter.

He is retiring at a time when Chinese manufacturers and businesses are facing huge challenges from the U.S. trade war with China.

Ma's 46-year-old successor has pushed Alibaba deeper into the wallets of Chinese consumers as it bought and transformed brick-and-mortar outlets: a so-called " New Retail" vision that's cost billions of dollars and took it into the realm of physical stores.



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