Alibaba’s co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma is stepping down from the company in order to pursue philanthropy in education. This change will be effective on September 10, 2019 (one year from now).
Ma started Alibaba in 1999 and turned the company into one of the largest global e-commerce companies. Alibaba was originally founded by Ma himself and 17 others out of his apartment in Hangzhou.
As a result, Ma’s net worth soared to more than $40 billion and made him the richest man in China. Ma said that his retirement is not the end of an era, but it can be considered “the beginning of an era.”
And Ma said that he loves education, which is why he wants to spend more time on it after retiring. Ma is going to remain on the board of directors at Alibaba and continue mentoring management at the company until 2020. After that, Ma will become a lifetime partner of the Alibaba Partnership, which is a group of 36 partners within Alibaba’s group of companies and affiliates.
“I have put a lot of thought and preparation into this succession plan for 10 years. I am delighted to announce the plan today thanks to the support of the Alibaba Partnership and our board of directors,” said Ma in a statement via TechCrunch. “I also want to offer special thanks to all Alibaba colleagues and your families, because your trust, support and our joint enterprise over the past 19 years have prepared us for this day with confidence and strength.”
Ma’s retirement announcement comes at a rocky time for Chinese Internet companies. Last week, JD.com’s founder Liu Qiangdong (known as Richard Liu) was arrested in Minneapolis during a business trip. Liu was released shortly after and returned to Beijing.
Ma had stepped down as CEO in 2013 and was replaced by Jonathan Lu. Lu was then replaced in 2015 by Daniel Zhang. Now Zhang will be taking Ma’s place as the chairman.
Alibaba especially started to take off after it introduced the Taobao marketplace service in 2003, which allowed merchants to sell goods directly to consumers.
Then Alibaba rolled out the Alipay payment service after that. Alipay is now branded as Ant Financial and it is the now highest valued finch company in the world with a valuation of $150 billion.
Ant Financial had attempted to acquire American money transfer service MoneyGram, but it was blocked by the federal government under President Trump due to national security concerns.
In August, Alibaba reported a 60% increase in sales for the quarter at 259 billion yuan ($40 billion US). And Alibaba currently has a market capitalization of around $420 billion.