- Ma announced plans to resign on September 10, 2018, the anniversary of Alibaba's founding, and Ma's birthday.
- Ma will be replaced by current executive director of Alibaba Group, Daniel Zhang.
- Having no special knowledge in computer technology, he founded Alibaba in his apartment, his third attempt to start a company.
The founder of the Chinese Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, left his post as the board of directors chairman on Tuesday and retired, as promised exactly a year ago. Ma founded Alibaba in 1999. In 20 years under his leadership, Alibaba has become one of the largest e-commerce corporations in the world. Its capitalization exceeds $500 billion.
Jack Ma himself is one of the richest businessmen in China. In 2018, his fortune was estimated at $40 billion. Thanks to his extraordinary style, Ma has also become one of China’s most famous rich people. Ma announced plans to resign on September 10, 2018. He said he would step down on the 20th anniversary of the corporation’s founding, which coincides with his own birthday. On Tuesday he turned 55 years old.
As chairman of Alibaba’s board of directors, Ma will be replaced by current executive director of Alibaba Group, Daniel Zhang. As Ma himself said, after leaving the company, he intends to focus on charity and educational projects. Ma was born in Hangzhou, in the east of China, to a poor family, and began his career as an English teacher. When he was 33 years old, he bought his first computer and was very surprised when, having typed “beer” in the search bar, he did not get a single Chinese brand.
Having no special knowledge in computer technology, he founded Alibaba in his apartment, convincing a group of friends to invest in his online trading platform. This was not his first attempt to launch a startup. “Alibaba is his third attempt to form a company, he already had two attempts before that. He saw the potential of the Internet quite quickly, but it took him some time to find a suitable way,” says Duncan Clark, chairman of investment -consulting company BDA China, who wrote a book about Ma.
Over the years, Alibaba has grown from an electronic trading platform into an Internet giant, with its own electronic payment system, food delivery service, film company and a unit developing unmanned vehicles and a speech recognition system. According to Clark, Ma was successful in business through charisma and strategic thinking— he had no special education in technology or finance.
“His personal charm is a significant part of his leadership qualities, as is his gift of persuasion, whether his clients, subordinates, or— what is extremely important— shareholders,” Clark says. Clark first met Ma 20 years ago, and even then, within ten years, Ma planned to make Alibaba one of the largest Internet companies in the world. “It was a bit of an overwhelming ambition, but somehow he managed to convince people of that,” Clark says.
Ma managed to turn his company into an international heavyweight, and the company’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 set a record, becoming the largest IPO in history. “I think that replacing a man like Jack Ma will be very difficult,” said Rebecca Fannin, author of a book on the development of Chinese technology companies.