Jack Ma retires on his 55th birthday, Daniel Zhang follows as new chairman of Alibaba
Updated 22:58, 10-Sep-2019

Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma steps down as chairman on Tuesday, exactly one year after he said that he would resign as the leader of the company that he co-founded in 1999, while current CEO Daniel Zhang takes the baton.

Under Ma's leadership, Alibaba has grown to become Asia's most valuable listed company, with a current market capitalization of 460 billion U.S. dollars. It employs over 100,000 people, and has expanded into financial services, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

It is rare for a founder of such a big and transformative tech firm to retire this early. After the retirement, Ma will remain a member of Alibaba's partnership, a corporate governing group of 38 individuals that is separate from the board of directors.

Ma, China's richest man with a net worth of 38.4 billion U.S. dollars, turns 55 on Tuesday. He used to be an English teacher before founding Alibaba and has said that he would "return to education" in the future.


Who is his successor?

Born in 1972, the 47-year-old Shanghai native has a bachelor's degree in finance. Zhang's earlier career experiences included CFO of gaming company Shanda and a senior manager at PwC's audit unit. He still serves as a director of several listed companies, including Haier Electric, Intime Commercial Group and Weibo.

In 2007 Zhang joined Alibaba as CFO of Taobao and has since risen up the ranks. He created the Singles' Day shopping holiday in 2009, a Black Friday-like online shopping spree that's held annually on November 11. After that, he served as president of Tmall. In 2013, Zhang was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the Alibaba Group and became CEO in 2015. 

"He has the logic and critical thinking skills of a super computer, a commitment to his vision, the courage to wholeheartedly dare to take on innovative business models and industries of the future," Ma said of Zhang in 2018 in a message announcing his appointment.

(With input from Reuters)