Jack Ma turns 55 tomorrow and with that comes his exit from as the Chairman of the US$460 Bn-plus ecommerce behemoth Alibaba that he co-founded. While Ma will hand over the baton to successor Daniel Zhang, leaving Alibaba thriving, he will on the board until his current term expires in 2020.
Alibaba, which announced the succession plan on Sept 10 last year, had said that Ma was a "lifetime partner" in the Alibaba Partnership and also a member of the partnership committee. The partnership is made up of 36 individuals and has the right to nominate a majority of the company's directors.
Ma’s exit is a smooth process, unlike other tech companies as the billionaire has spent years grooming Alibaba's next generation of leaders, including successor Daniel Zhang and chief financial officer Maggie Wu, to take over. As part of a management reshuffle in June, the latter was elevated to oversee the company's all-important strategic investments division.
Unlike other tech companies where the departure of charismatic founders typically causes a dip in share prices and a certain amount of disturbance, Alibaba’s operations have been going smoothly operational for a couple of years now, in the hands of a respected team of executives who have kept the culture of innovation thriving.
As Zhang inherits the top job, his focus will be on driving success in overseas markets, which has remained elusive so far and will be far more critical as trade tensions mount with the US. Ma meanwhile, plans to put his vast fortune, estimated at $41 Bn into initiatives serving his first love, education.