Alibaba’s co-founder and chairman Jack Ma has announced plans to retire from the company, handing his leadership to the current chief executive Daniel Zhang.
Ma, one of China’s richest men, announced in a letter to customers and shareholders what he will step down from the $420 billion (£324 billion) company in September next year.
After creating the online ecommerce giant in 1999, Ma built Alibaba into one of the worlds largest companies, breaking the record for the world’s biggest initial public offering when it was listed in New York in 2014.
“The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things,” Ma said.
“The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.
His successor Zhang, who has acted as chief executive since 2015, is somewhat of a mystery compared to the limelight-loving Ma.
Even author of the book “Alibaba: The House that Jack Built” Duncan Clarke said: “We don’t know much about (Zhang) even though he’s been CEO for a while, because he’s by nature a very low-key person, low profile.”
Ma described Zhang as a “superb talent”, praising his “unparalleled” analytical mind and “guts to innovate and test creative business models”.
He is credited with pioneering the retailer’s Singles Day event, which is now the world’s largest shopping event which saw total gross merchandising revenues of $25.3 billion (£19.33 billion) last year, dwarfing Amazon’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday events.