Alibaba’s Jack Ma to step down and planning a gradual succession
Alibaba’s co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma will reportedly retire from the e-commerce company. Ma co-founded Alibaba in 1999 and has seen it become one of the world’s biggest internet companies.
The New York Times first reported that the entrepreneur plans to announce that he will leave the firm to pursue philanthropy in education, a topic he is passionate about . He is a former English teacher. 36-years old richest Chinese man has a net worth of $36.6bn.
According to the American newspaper, he will remain on the company’s board of directors and continue to mentor its management. He was quoted as saying his retirement was not the end of an era, but the beginning of one.
13-year Alibaba veteran Jonathan Lu stepped into Ma’s shoes as CEO. He led Alibaba when it went public in a record $25 billion IPO in 2015, but he was replaced in 2015 by Daniel Zhang after reportedly losing Ma’s confidence.
Earlier this week, Mr Ma told Bloomberg TV that he wanted to create a personal foundation, following in the footsteps of Microsoft’s Bill Gates. “There’s a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates,” he said.
“I can never be as rich, but one thing I can do better is to retire earlier. I think some day, and soon, I’ll go back to teaching. This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba.”
Jack Ma‘s retirement from a formal role is a milestone, analysts and industry professionals say it is unlikely his involvement will change significantly.
“I don’t think it means that much, frankly. He stepped back from the CEO role about four or five years ago and very specifically made a comment about wanting the younger people to lead the company,” said Kevin Carter, founder of The Emerging Markets Internet exchange-trade fund.
The exact details will be announced on Ma’s birthday, September 10.
Jack Ma’s Story Is INSPIRING!
Ma is a true rags-to-riches story. He grew up poor in communist China, failed his college entrance exam twice, and was rejected from dozens of jobs, including one at KFC, before finding success Alibaba.
He would ride 70 miles on his bicycle to give tourists tours of the area to practice his English for nine years. He (a.k.a. Ma Yun) became pen pals with one of those foreigners, who nicknamed him “Jack” because he found it hard to pronounce his Chinese name.
Jack Ma Wife
He married Zhang Ying, a teacher whom he met at school, after they graduated in the late ’80s. “[He] is not a handsome man, but I fell for him because he can do a lot of things handsome men cannot do,” Zhang has said.
He has an older brother and a younger sister. He and his siblings grew up at a time when communist China was increasingly isolated from the West, and his family didn’t have much money when they were young.
Ma was scrawny and often got into fights with classmates. “I was never afraid of opponents who were bigger than I,” he recalls in “Alibaba,” a book by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery.
Without money or connections, the only way Ma could get ahead was through education. After high school, he applied to go to college — but failed the entrance exam twice. After a great deal of studying, he finally passed on the third try, going on to attend Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute. He graduated in 1988 and started applying to as many jobs as he could.
Jack Ma applied for 30 different jobs and got rejected by all. “I went for a job with the police; they said, ‘you’re no good,'” Ma told interviewer Charlie Rose. “I even went to KFC when it came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted. I was the only guy…”. In addition to this, he applied ten times to Harvard Business School (HBS) and got rejected.
In 1994, Ma heard about the Internet. In early 1995, he went to the US with his friends, who helped introduce him to the Internet. Although he found information related to beer from many countries, he was surprised to find none from China.
Ma’s first online search was “beer,” but he was surprised to find that no Chinese beers turned up in the results. It was then that he decided to found an internet company for China.
He also tried to search for general information about China and again was surprised to find none. So he and his friend created an “ugly” website related to China. He launched the website at 9:40 AM, and by 12:30 PM he had received emails from some Chinese investors wishing to know about him. This was when Ma realized that the Internet had something great to offer.
In April 1995, Ma, his wife Cathy and a friend raised US$20,000 and started their first company. Their company was dedicated to creating websites for companies and he named it “China Pages”. Within three years, the company had made 5,000,000 Chinese Yuan which at the time was equivalent to US$800,000.
The team remained close-knit and scrappy — “We will make it because we are young and we never, never give up,” Ma said to a gathering of employees.
Alibaba is the world’s largest retailer with operations in over 200 countries. It is one of the largest Internet and AI companies, one of the biggest venture capital firms, and one of the biggest investment corporations in the world. Its online sales and profits surpassed all US retailers (including Walmart, Amazon and eBay) combined since 2015.