Jack Ma steps down as Alibaba chairman
Jack Ma, founder of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba, stepped down as the company's chairman on Tuesday.
Jack Ma, founder of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba [File photo: EPA via IC/Christophe Petit Tesson]
Ma, one of China's wealthiest and best-known entrepreneurs, gave up his post on his 55th birthday as part of a succession announced a year ago. He will stay on as a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a 36-member group with the right to nominate a majority of the company's board of directors.
Ma's successor as chairman is CEO Daniel Zhang, a former accountant and 12-year veteran of Alibaba. He previously was president of its consumer-focused Tmall.com business unit.
Ma, a former English teacher, founded Alibaba in 1999 to connect Chinese exporters to American retailers.
The company has shifted focus to serving China's growing consumer market and expanded into online banking, entertainment and cloud computing. Domestic businesses accounted for 66% of its $16.7 billion in revenue in the quarter ending in June.
The total amount of goods sold across Alibaba's e-commerce platforms rose 25% last year to $853 billion. By comparison, the biggest U.S. e-commerce company, Amazon.com Inc., reported total sales of $277 billion.
Alibaba is one of a group of companies including Tencent Holding Ltd., a games and social media giant, search engine Baidu.com Inc. and e-commerce rival JD.com that have revolutionized shopping, entertainment and consumer services in China.
Alibaba was founded at a time when few Chinese were online. As internet use spread, the company expanded into consumer-focused retailing and services. Few Chinese used credit cards, so Alibaba created the Alipay online payments system.
The company's $25 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 was the biggest to date by a Chinese company.
The Hurun Report, which follows China's wealth, estimates Ma's fortune at $38 billion.
In 2015, Ma bought the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's biggest English-language newspaper.
Alibaba's e-commerce business spans platforms including business-to-business Alibaba.com, which links foreign buyers with Chinese suppliers of goods from furniture to medical technology, and Tmall, with online shops for popular brands.
Alipay became a freestanding financial company, Ant Financial, in 2014. Alibaba also set up its own film studio and invested in logistics and delivery services.
(Story includes material sourced from AP.)