Alibaba’s Jack Ma to step down, focus on philanthropy

Alibaba’s Jack Ma to step down, focus on philanthropy

Alibaba Group’s Co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma has announced plans to hand the reins of his e-commerce empire to CEO Daniel Zhang.

In a letter to customers, employees and shareholders, he said he will continue as Executive Chairman of the company over the next 12 months to “ensure a smooth transition of the chairmanship to Mr. Zhang”. He will also complete his current term as a member of Alibaba Group’s board of directors until its annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020.

The former English teacher, 54, is looking to focus on philanthropy in education. Ma, who founded Alibaba in 1999 and stepped down as Chief Executive in 2013, is China's third richest person with a net worth of $36.6 billion according to Forbes magazine.

"I don't think it means that much, frankly. He stepped back from the CEO role about four or five years ago and very specifically made a comment about wanting the younger people to lead the company," Kevin Carter, Founder of The Emerging Markets Internet exchange-trade fund, told Reuters. "I'm sure he'll be just as involved as he has been in his Chairman role, even if he doesn't have the formal title.”

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