Alibaba's Jack Ma to be succeeded by CEO Daniel Zhang next year

Jack Ma co-founded Alibaba in 1999 with 18 staff

Jack Ma, the charismatic co-founder and chairman of China's largest e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has begun making arrangements to step down as part of a long-term transition plan, the company said on Monday (Sep 10).

Ma will complete his current term on Alibaba's board of directors following the company's annual general meeting in 2020.

Before moving into the business world with Alibaba's founding nearly 20 years ago, Ma was an English teacher.

At the time, Mr Trump hailed Jack Ma as a "great, great entrepreneur, one of the best in the world", who loves both the United States and China.

Ma's 46-year-old successor has pushed Alibaba deeper into the wallets of Chinese consumers as it bought and transformed brick-and-mortar outlets: a so-called " New Retail" vision that's cost billions of dollars and took it into the realm of physical stores.

Daniel Zhang, chief executive of Alibaba Group.

"There's only Bill Gates who has done the same". He is known as a key architect of Alibaba's "Singles Day", the Nov 11 event that has becomes the world's largest online shopping event. Ma said that over the years, the company has experimented with and improved on the right balance between systems and individuals.

His own worth has soared along with that of his company, which has added cloud computing, films and e-payments to its growing portfolio and was valued at US$420.8 billion when the stock market closed on Friday.

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The NYT report was quickly denied by Alibaba whose spokesman told the Post on Saturday that Mr. Ma remains the company's executive chairman and will provide transition plans over a significant period of time.

With no background in computing, Mr Ma co-founded Alibaba in his apartment almost two decades ago, having convinced a group of friends to invest in his online marketplace.

Since handing over the CEO role, Ma, who is married with three children, has concentrated on philanthropy and promoting Alibaba internationally at business and political events.

The Alibaba Partnership has 36 partners, who are the senior management of Alibaba Group or its affiliates.

"The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba".

Last year Ma invested 300 million yuan ($45 million) in a rural education project in China.

Alibaba maintained robust revenue growth in the first half of 2018, but its profit margins have been squeezed by big-ticket investments as it battles to maintain pole position in payments and e-commerce.

Alibaba is also increasing its footprint in the government sector.

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