BEIJING – China’s richest man, Jack Ma, officially handed over the reins of his e-commerce giant Alibaba on Tuesday to his successor 20 years after he founded the platform.
He announced last year that he would step down on his 55th birthday. From today, Daniel Zhang, who has previously served as CEO, will take the role of president.
Ma will remain on the board of directors until next year.
The choice of the date not only has significance for the fact that it is Ma’s birthday by it is also teacher’s day in China, a job that Ma had before founding Alibaba in 1999.
In fact, the entrepreneur said he would focus his energy back into education once he has left the board.
Some local media outlets reported that he planned to celebrate his last day as president, and his birthday, with a large ceremony at a stadium in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where Alibaba is based, although company sources told Efe they were not allowed to provide details on that matter.
In a video posted to Alibaba’s official Twitter account, in which Ma goes over the history of the company, from its humble origins in his apartment in Hangzhou to the giant it is today, he said the key to its success was that, unlike other businesses, it did not solely focus on profit making.
“They forget about the dreams. It’s important that Alibaba dreams. It’s the dreams that keep us working hard,” he said.
Zhang has been mentored by Ma for the last decade, in preparation for his eventual taking over of the company.
Ma departs his position with a total net work of $34.6 billion, according to Forbes.
In a statement last year, Ma said: “I still have lots of dreams to pursue. Those who know me know that I do not like to sit idle. The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things.”