Economy

Alibaba's Jack Ma to be succeeded by CEO Daniel Zhang next year

Alibaba's Jack Ma to be succeeded by CEO Daniel Zhang next year

Chinese e-tailer Alibaba Group's Chief Executive Daniel Zhang will be the new chairman, succeeding its co-founder Jack Ma from September 2019, said the global firm on Monday.

But like Apple's transition to current boss Tim Cook, Alibaba CEO and anointed successor Daniel Zhang may be less magnetic than his predecessor but has proven an able steward since effectively taking the operational reins years ago, they said.

"An Alibaba spokesman said Ma remains the company's executive chairman and will provide transition plans over a significant period of time", the SCMP wrote.

Ma has become synonymous with the company he helped found in his apartment almost 20 years ago and has used the chairman's post to develop managerial talent since ceding the CEO's role in 2013.

Ma will be succeeded by Alibaba's chief executive officer Daniel Zhang as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group in September next year. The CEO has proven a capable hand and Alibaba's stock has surged 87 percent over his tenure and now has a market value of about $420 billion, bigger than arch-foe and WeChat operator Tencent Holdings Ltd.

He took care not to project himself bigger than the CPC leadership though he has emerged as modern China's most revered corporate icon. "I flew 870 hours last year, and this year, 1,000 hours", Ma said in an interview with American talk show host Charlie Rose in Detroit in June, 2017. Zhang, a former accountant, will also continue as CEO.

Ma turns 54 on Monday, which is a holiday in China known as Teacher's Day.

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Ma, a former English teacher with no technical background, cofounded Alibaba in 1999 with 17 others and has become one of China's richest people with a net worth of $36.6 billion, according to Forbes. An investment from Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. helped the company expand to allow consumers in China buy online and fueling its rise.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jack Ma pledged to help create a million United States jobs after a meeting with then President-elect Donald Trump.

Ma has faced controversy, including when it was disclosed in 2011 that Alibaba had transferred control over Alipay to a company controlled by Ma without immediately informing shareholders including Yahoo Inc. and Japan's Softback.

Nearly two decades later, Alibaba is an internet juggernaut and Ma is among the world's richest men, with a net worth of more than $40 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. "He has understood Chinese consumer needs better than anyone and provided online services to meet them through convenience, entertainment and efficiencies". "Of all people, I should know that". He has struck a careful balance even as tensions between China and the US have risen over trade. "The one thing I can promise everyone is this: Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba".

"On a day-to-day basis, Alibaba shareholders probably have little to fear", said Silvers.

The company has a strong management team and Ma is likely to still have a role in setting top level strategy, said Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital. Has Alibaba peaked? Does Ma think China has peaked?