Alibaba chairman Jack Ma to step down in 2019: company

Jack Ma's Message to Alibaba Employees Have Right Balance Between System People Culture

Jack Ma, co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, says he will step aside as the company's chairman in September of 2019. Ma will officially pass the baton on his 55th birthday next year but remain on the board until 2020.

Ma - who will remain on Alibaba's board of directors and continue to mentor the company's management after retirement - met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015 and discussed ways to empower small businesses in the country.

"No company can rely exclusively on its founders", Ma wrote in an open letter today, the billionaire's 54th birthday, the 19th anniversary of Alibaba's founding, and Teacher's Day in China. Ma stepped down as chief executive officer in 2013 to dedicate more time to philanthropy through the Jack Ma Foundation.

Alibaba is one of the world's most valuable companies - its shares almost doubled in value past year.

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, is preparing to retire from the Chinese retail giant. Ma has cited Bill Gates as someone from whom he has learned.

"He put a human face on technology, and took China onto the global stage, not as a state-owned enterprise, crucially", said Duncan Clark, managing director at Beijing tech advisory BDA and author of "Alibaba: The House that Jack Built".

In the letter on Monday, Ma said he had been planning his exit for ten years and has previously said he wants the company to last 102 years, choosing a specific number to motivate employees.

But he has also said in the past that he isn't happy being the wealthiest person in China, where vast personal fortunes have only emerged in recent years and are subject to intense scrutiny. "Globalisation is one of our key strategies for Alibaba".

"We believed the only way to solve the problem of corporate leadership succession was to develop a system of governance based on a unique culture and mechanisms for developing consistent talent and successors", his letter read.

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Here are five things to know about Jack Ma.

Alibaba's $25 billion initial public stock offering on Wall Street in 2014 is the biggest to date by a Chinese company. "All these things that I've been preparing for 10 years", he said, who is now China's richest man.

But an Alibaba spokesman told the SCMP that The New York Times' story "was taken out of context, and [was] factually wrong".

Ma has described Zhang as having "superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership".

"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", Ma wrote.

Other members include Eric Jing, chief of Alibaba payment affiliate Ant Financial [ANTFIN.UL], Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba, Simon Hu, chief of Alibaba Cloud, and Lucy Peng, who heads Alibaba's Southeast Asia business.

The statement did not specify exactly what Ma planned to do after stepping down but it said he wants to "return to education". I plan on continuing my role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership and contribute to the work of the partnership.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jack Ma pledged to help create a million U.S. jobs after a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump.

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