Chairman Jack Ma Is Leaving $460 Billion Alibaba

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Executive Chairman Jack Ma
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Executive Chairman Jack Ma attends the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) with Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk (not pictured) in Shanghai, China, August 29, 2019.
(Photo: REUTERS/Aly Song)

Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma will leave his chairmanship when he turns 55 this September 10, giving his handpicked successor, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zang, the big challenge of turning around the $460 billion e-commerce giant when the company's core business, had slowed dramatically.

An accountant by trade, soft-spoken Zhang is the opposite of the flamboyant and charismatic Ma.

Ma's ability to stand out helped give investors faith in his business empire.

Talking about Zhang, Ma said, upon making picking him as a successor in 2018, that he has "the courage to wholeheartedly take on innovative business models and industries of the future" coupled with having "the logic and critical thinking skills of a supercomputer" and "a commitment to his vision."

Ma's plan of retiring early, just after 20 years from founding the giant Alibaba is thought of as unusual.

With Ma at the company's helm, Alibaba became Asia's most valuable listed company that has 100,00 people.

It also expanded to include artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and financial services.

Fast forward from when the company started from just a shared apartment, China's e-commerce already matured.

One of Zhang's responsibilities will be finding new areas of growth.

Liu Yiming, an analyst at the research division of 36kr, a Chinese tech publishing group, says that finding "new innovations or trends is going to be more difficult than before" and confirms that "this will be a big challenge" for Zhang.

According to the national statistics office, China's online retail sales grew only by almost half compared to 32.4% of last year.

Just last week, Alibaba got hold of the luxury goods retail platform Kaola and a music streaming firm showcasing Alibaba's openness to new strategies.

Though Ma enjoys unparalleled popularity in China, he had some business setbacks that he's handing over.

Ma had a hard time expanding Alibaba internationally and the $1.2 billion acquisition of remittance provider MoneyGram is the most prominent disappointment.

Alibaba's Taobao marketplace is on US' list of "notorious markets" for infringing on intellectual property.

Ma also became controversial when he told tech companies to urge employees to work even on nights and weekend.

The moment he leaves, Forbes says he'll the richest man with $38.4 billion net worth.

Ma will spend time on education and philanthropy while still staying as a member of Alibaba's partnership, separate from its board of directors.

Next month, he is going to be at the first Africa Netpreneur Awards to announce the $1 million prize, winner.

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