Alibaba Founder, Jack Ma, Steps Down As Chairman
Jack Ma, the charismatic founder of the Alibaba empire, is stepping down today, on his 55th birthday, as chairman of the Alibaba Group, according to Business Insider. The announcement is part of a long-planned succession strategy. He is expected to remain involved in the company through the Alibaba Partnership, an organization with an indirect governance role. Ma has appointed CEO Daniel Zhang, who joined the company in 2015, to succeed him.
Ma launched the company in 1999 with several others, then operating from a small apartment in Hangzhou city in eastern China, with a plan to sell Chinese-made goods globally. According to Business Insider, today the company is worth $460 billion, making Ma the richest man in China and the 21st-richest man in the world. In the past 20 years under Ma’s leadership, the company has expanded into online banking, artificial intelligence and entertainment; it now employs more than 100,000 people, according to Reuters.
In July, Alibaba.com opened to U.S. sellers, giving them a conduit to a global marketplace of buyers. Previously, U.S. businesses were only able to buy on the platform, which caters to business-to-business transactions. The move was aimed to empower the estimated 10 million active business buyers in more than 190 countries and regions to help them succeed on their own terms.