How Jack Ma changed China

Jack Ma has become arguably the most public face of China's internet boom since he started e-commerce giant Alibaba 19 years ago.

Posted: Sep 10, 2018 8:56 PM
Updated: Sep 10, 2018 9:14 PM

Jack Ma, a billionaire pioneer of China's internet industry, will step down as Alibaba's executive chairman next year to make way for the company's next generation of leaders.

"No company can rely solely on its founders," Ma said in a letter Monday to customers, employees and shareholders. "Because of physical limits on one's ability and energy, no one can shoulder the responsibilities of chairman and CEO forever."

A former English teacher, Ma started Alibaba nearly two decades ago in his apartment and built it into a $420 billion business. The e-commerce company said CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed Ma in 12 months' time.

With a net worth of around $40 billion, Ma is one of the richest people in China. He maintains a high profile, speaking at conferences around the globe and rubbing shoulders with world leaders.

Ma, who will remain on the company's board of directors until 2020, said he has spent the last 10 years preparing for this succession plan, working to identify and develop the right talent inside Alibaba.

"Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing ... for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles," he said.

'Clark Kent' and 'Superman'

Zhang, who is 46, joined Alibaba in 2007 and held a range of senior management roles before taking over as CEO in 2015.

"Daniel is very low profile, he's quiet. He's mild mannered, he's more Clark Kent, and Jack's the Superman," said Duncan Clark, the author of "Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built."

Ma gave up the CEO role in 2013 and in recent years has found time to work on other projects, including philanthropy and performing in a kung fu movie.

He said on Monday, his 54th birthday, that he wants to return to education, adding that he is still young and has "lots of dreams to pursue."

Even after stepping away from Alibaba's senior management and board, he is expected to continue to shape the company's future through his lifetime membership of the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 people that can nominate a majority of the directors to the board.

"It doesn't really matter what his title is, he'll always have that founder street cred within the company and the market," Clark said.

The announcement of his departure comes at an uncertain time for Chinese tech companies. The stocks of Alibaba and other top firms have been hit by concerns about the health of China's economy and Beijing's increased scrutiny of the sector.

Amid the turmoil, the 12-month period before Ma hands over to Zhang will enable a smooth transition at Alibaba, Karen Chan, an equities analyst with Jefferies, wrote in a research note Monday.

Building a tech giant

Alibaba started out in 1999 as an online marketplace to connect Chinese businesses with one another. It has since expanded dramatically to become China's biggest tech company, helping merchants sell everything from luxury goods to fresh groceries to the country's growing number of online shoppers.

To handle the high volume of transactions, Ma set up Alipay, an online payments platform that allowed customers to pay for goods using a digital wallet. Alipay, now part of Alibaba-affiliate Ant Financial, is China's most popular digital-payment service.

Alibaba went public in 2014, raising $25 billion on Wall Street in the world's largest ever IPO.

The company has become an aggressive tech investor, pouring money into video streaming, online food delivery, dockless bike-sharing and ride-hailing start-ups in China and beyond.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 697182

Reported Deaths: 8169
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1427711862
Ramsey59431953
Dakota53075503
Anoka48987486
Washington31228315
Stearns25428242
St. Louis20900339
Scott20039146
Wright18954165
Olmsted16269112
Sherburne13840106
Carver1237052
Clay936897
Rice9278125
Blue Earth888747
Crow Wing8070102
Kandiyohi753292
Chisago733858
Otter Tail689897
Benton6653102
Mower576238
Winona564852
Goodhue560581
Douglas549484
Beltrami534672
Itasca532572
Steele520221
McLeod519665
Isanti500470
Morrison478263
Nobles455650
Becker455060
Polk444575
Freeborn438142
Lyon402454
Carlton399160
Nicollet387848
Pine384026
Mille Lacs363860
Brown358244
Cass355536
Le Sueur348230
Todd333034
Meeker314049
Waseca297626
Martin271633
Wabasha25005
Dodge24865
Hubbard241941
Roseau238224
Houston211217
Redwood206642
Fillmore204510
Renville204248
Pennington196022
Wadena192927
Faribault184925
Sibley180310
Cottonwood179424
Chippewa173439
Kanabec168329
Aitkin159239
Watonwan157211
Rock142919
Jackson136112
Pope13378
Yellow Medicine128720
Pipestone126126
Koochiching125119
Swift120319
Murray117610
Stevens110011
Clearwater109218
Marshall107619
Lake94321
Wilkin91014
Lac qui Parle89424
Mahnomen7339
Big Stone7024
Grant6938
Norman6829
Lincoln6724
Kittson54222
Unassigned52893
Red Lake5067
Traverse4375
Lake of the Woods4204
Cook2150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 443535

Reported Deaths: 6420
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk69441683
Linn26618363
Scott23312265
Black Hawk19397338
Woodbury17483233
Johnson1698692
Dubuque14775221
Pottawattamie13369186
Dallas13048102
Story1211448
Warren707893
Webster6479103
Cerro Gordo6370105
Clinton635898
Des Moines618084
Muscatine5985109
Marshall586981
Sioux547676
Jasper532076
Lee529084
Wapello5230128
Unassigned50150
Buena Vista479442
Marion464086
Plymouth442185
Henry351341
Jones341159
Bremer331365
Washington330454
Crawford326844
Carroll326553
Benton325756
Boone318636
Mahaska282754
Dickinson276547
Kossuth257471
Clay255629
Jackson253844
Tama246073
Hardin244547
Buchanan244238
Delaware240143
Cedar228025
Fayette227945
Page225724
Wright221741
Winneshiek219237
Hamilton216752
Harrison205476
Madison199920
Clayton199758
Floyd195742
Butler191936
Poweshiek188837
Mills188225
Iowa185927
Cherokee184740
Allamakee181152
Jefferson178238
Lyon178041
Calhoun172213
Hancock170336
Winnebago170131
Cass164356
Louisa161651
Grundy161335
Appanoose158149
Shelby156539
Emmet153241
Franklin152224
Humboldt151626
Union149937
Sac147922
Mitchell146143
Guthrie142132
Chickasaw141618
Palo Alto134527
Clarke130226
Montgomery127940
Keokuk121332
Monroe118733
Howard118422
Ida109838
Davis105025
Greene103012
Pocahontas102623
Monona99034
Lucas98523
Adair97734
Worth9558
Osceola84717
Decatur76710
Fremont76511
Van Buren75221
Taylor73412
Wayne66323
Ringgold63027
Audubon60114
Adams4254
Rochester
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 67°
Mason City
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 58°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 64°
Warmup ahead of workweek
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Product shortages reminiscent of early 2020 are returning

Image

School COVID-19 policies concerning parents

Image

Why are we seeing product shortages again?

Image

Product Shortages

Image

Full Weather Forecast

Image

Sean's Weather 9/27

Image

Minnesota drivers are violating school bus laws

Image

10 Minnesota educators have now died from COVID-19

Image

CMX Chateau Movie Theater now open to the public

Image

Full Forecast 9/26/21

Community Events