Following news of his retirement that emerged over the weekend, Alibaba's co-founder and chairman Jack Ma confirmed today that he will be stepping down next year and announced current CEO Daniel Zhang as his successor, Bloomberg reports.
Under the 12-month succession plan, Jack Ma will hand the reins over to 46-year-old Zhang on September 10, 2019, falling on the tech billionaire’s 55th birthday. Ma will also remain on Alibaba Group’s board of directors until the next annual general meeting of shareholders in 2020.
In a letter issued to all customers, staff and shareholders, Ma said that “no company can rely solely on its founders" and that due to “physical limits on one’s ability and energy, no one can shoulder the responsibilities of chairman and CEO forever.”
Ma’s successor, Zhang, is a former accountant who joined Alibaba in 2007 and was responsible for expanding its Tmall business-to-consumer platform into an “online retail behemoth," according to MarketWatch. Zhang is also said to be the brains behind the massively successful Singles Day e-commerce holiday.
Jack Ma's successor: Alibaba's current CEO, Daniel Zhang. Image via Alibaba Group
Ma praised Zhang's "superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership" that has seen him being named by China's business news as the number one CEO in 2018.
Ma, who turned 54 today, intends to return to education and will likely continue philanthropic pursuits through the Jack Ma Foundation.
"I still have lots of dreams to pursue [and] want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do," said Ma.
Ma signed off his statement by saying: "Alibaba was never about Jack Ma, but Jack Ma will forever belong to Alibaba."
READ MORE: Jack Ma Says He's Retiring from Alibaba
[Top image via UNclimatechange/Flickr]