What's going on?
A year to the day on Monday, Jack Ma, co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba – China’s $400 billion answer to Amazon – will step down from running the company.
What does this mean?
Ma has had a 19-year run with the internet giant so far, since co-founding it in 1999. In this time, he’s helped steer Alibaba away from the forty thieves and into cloud computing, logistics and delivery services, food delivery, and payments – on top of its core online marketplace business. Alibaba and Ma have gone to the internet and beyond, also expanding into offline retail in an initiative entitled “new retail“. The project aims to link on-and-offline shopping experiences – like what Amazon’s doing with Whole Foods.
Alibaba’s now China’s biggest technology company, one of the most valuable companies in the world (its stock more than doubled in value last year), and the number one retailer worldwide (Walmart who?).
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Step into the ring, guy who was already in the ring.
Ma stepped down as CEO in 2013, and Alibaba’s current CEO will be taking on the soon-to-be-vacated executive chairman role, too. The same person holding two powerful roles in the company may be slightly riskier for Alibaba as it means there’ll be fewer people making the big decisions. Fun fact: this is the case at Tesla, too, where Elon Musk is both chairman and CEO.
For you, personally: Hello, work-life balance.
Ma is going after life outside business, having become a dotcom billionaire (worth more than $40 billion) after once upon a time being rejected for a job by KFC (tweet this). The ex-English teacher wants to return to his roots in education, dedicating more time to philanthropy via his foundation (which is also largely focused on education) à la Microsoft founder, Bill Gates. Ma may not be as rich as Gates but he’s managed to retire sooner. Preach.