Alibaba founder Jack Ma announces departure

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has announced he will be leaving the business, and will be replaced in his role as chairman by CEO Daniel Zhang.

In an open letter addressed to customers, staff and shareholders, Ma – who established the company 19 years ago today (10 September) – said he will hand the reins to Zhang on the business’s 20th anniversary in 12 months' time, before departing from the board altogether one year later.

The coming 12 months will see Ma maintain his current role to ensure a smooth handover, Alibaba announced. Ma is a lifetime partner in the Alibaba Partnership which comprises 36 partners who are also members of senior management of Alibaba Group or its affiliates.

In his open letter, Ma said: “I have put a lot of thought and preparation into this succession plan for ten years.

“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.”

He also commended his successor, saying that, in the role of CEO, Zhang “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.”

On his personal future plans, Ma said those who know him understand he will not “sit idle”.

“I plan on continuing my role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership and contribute to the work of the partnership,” he remarked.

“I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realised?”

Read Ma’s open letter in full here

Revenue at Alibaba jumped by 61% to 80.9 billion yuan ($9.1 billion) in the three months ended June, supported by its wide-ranging business verticals including its online marketplace, Hema grocery stores and fast-growing technology solutions business.

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