Alibaba’s Jack Ma steps down next year
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Alibaba’s Jack Ma steps down next year

After 20 years at the helm, Jack Ma will step down from his position as chairman of Alibaba on September 10 2019. Under his watch, Alibaba was not just born, but grew into one of China’s “Big Three” internet companies alongside Tencent and Baidu. In 2014, as chairman, Mr. Ma oversaw the world’s largest-ever IPO when he took the company public, and (despite having stood down as CEO in 2013), he’s been busy with it ever since. Yesterday, we found out that Daniel Zhang, the company’s current CEO, will do his best to fill Mr. Ma’s shoes.

Worries over international trade have weighed on Alibaba’s otherwise healthy business over the last five days

graph 1109 alibaba

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Ma will remain on Alibaba’s board of directors, but he assured journalists over the weekend that he was serious about standing down. His plans include philanthropy – potentially with an educational slant – in the mode of Bill Gates. He will use a new eponymous foundation to accomplish this work. Asked to give a clue on what he had in mind, he replied: “you’ll know very soon. I’ve prepared a Jack ma Foundation. All these things that I’ve been preparing for 10 years.”

Saying that he wanted to “retire earlier” than Bill Gates, Ma added he may “go back to teaching. This is something I think I can do much better than being CEO of Alibaba.” Mr. Ma’s 20 years at the top have not made him quite as wealthy as Mr. Gates – but with an estimated value of $40 billion, he has plenty to throw at whatever his goals turn out to be.

Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital, thinks that investors needn’t worry about a post-Ma Alibaba – in part, because the company’s founder has managed to assemble such a strong management team. He told reporters: “When Jack Ma speaks longingly of retirement from Alibaba, there’s no reason not to take him at his word. On a day-to-day basis, Alibaba shareholders probably have little to fear should the charismatic Ma pull back a bit further.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds Alibaba in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.


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