Chinese e-commerce tycoon Jack Ma said he would step down as executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., handing over the reins to CEO Daniel Zhang.
Ma made the announcement on his 54th birthday, saying he has “lots of dreams to pursue” including working in education again. Before founding Alibaba in 1999, Ma was a teacher - he is known at the company as “Teacher Ma.”
In a letter addressed to customers, shareholders and employees - referred to as “Aliren,” or “People of Alibaba” - Ma said he would stay on the company’s board members until the 2020 annual shareholders meeting.
In his letter, Ma said he plans to continue in his role as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership, a group of senior executives who have the right to nominate most of the company’s board despite not holding a majority of the company’s shares.
“The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things—because what if new dreams can be realised? The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba,” Ma wrote.
Zhang, 46, will assume leadership of China’s largest technology company, which spans e-commerce, cloud computing and entertainment. It controls a massive mobile-payment network and is driving into new ventures built on quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
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