Ma stepped down on the 20th anniversary of the founding of China’s most valuable public tech firm. He will be a lifetime partner in the Alibaba Partnership, the group that nominates many on the board. (The Logic)
Talking point: This is the company’s first leadership change. Ma, who turned 55 on Tuesday, is young to be leaving the firm he helped build. It’s also uncommon in a country where founders often choose to maintain tight control over their firms; Alibaba’s competitors, like Tencent and Baidu, are still run by their founders. Ma had originally announced his plan to retire in September 2018, a move that sent its stock falling by almost four per cent. But it’s since risen over nine per cent as the company has become the leader in Chinese e-commerce, while also building out its mobile payments, entertainment and artificial intelligence divisions. Zhang, who will take Ma’s place as executive chairman, has held his current position as CEO since 2015, and popularized Alibaba’s Singles’ Day, which is now the world’s largest shopping event. Zhang is taking over during a period of economic uncertainty in China that has negatively impacted its rivals, but that Alibaba has so far weathered.