Nearly two decades after he founded and led Alibaba, Jack Ma ceded his position as the company's CEO to Jonathan Lu back in 2013, choosing to continue to lead the company as chairman. In 2015, Lu was replaced by Daniel Zhang.
Following an official announcement made by Alibaba today, over the period of exactly one year from now, Ma will gradually relinquish his various powers as chairman, as well, over to Zhang. Ma will remain on the board of directors until the company's annual shareholders' meeting in 2020.
In the announcement made today - via a letter sent to various media outlets - Ma shared his praise for Zhang, touting his "superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership" since he took over as CEO:
"Under his stewardship, Alibaba has seen consistent and sustainable growth for 13 consecutive quarters. His analytical mind is unparalleled, he holds dear our mission and vision, he embraces responsibility with passion, and he has the guts to innovate and test creative business models.”
Continuing, Ma spoke of his plans for his own future, citing interest in furthering philanthropic and educational causes, given that before he founded Alibaba, he was a teacher:
"I want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realized?! The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba.”
He also went on to say that he will remain a lifetime member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 partners who come from the upper echelons of the company and hold considerable power over the company.