Jack Ma, 54 years old, announced in early September 2018 that he would retire from Alibaba a year later and return to his beloved educational career. Here is a summary of Mr. Ma's public letter announcing his retirement.
“Today is the 19th anniversary of Alibaba. In one year’s time, on the 20th anniversary of Alibaba, I will resign from the chairmanship of the Alibaba Group’s Board of Directors, and current CEO, Yong Zhang will replace me in this position. I will remain a member of the Alibaba Group board until the annual shareholder’s meeting in 2020.
When Alibaba was founded in 1999, we wanted to build a company that would make China and the world proud, and have it last for at least 102 years. But no one can remain CEO or chairman of a company forever. The long-term development of a company should not rely only on a few founders, but also on the governance system, the cultural system and a steady stream of talented teams. Ten years ago, I asked myself about how to guarantee Alibaba’s good development without me. I believe that enterprises can only be inherited through their unique culture and a large number of self-cultivated and educated talents. In order to realise this, our efforts and practices have never stopped in the last decade.
I used to be a teacher and I think it is time for the company’s younger, more capable and talented employees to take the lead and inherit our great mission of "Making business easier for the world". Our original intention and responsibility was to help small and medium-sized businesses, young people and women all over the world. What is remarkable about Alibaba today is not its business, company size or achievements, but that we have become a truly mission-driven company. Our partnership system, unique culture and talented team have created a solid institutional foundation for the company's heritage. In fact, we have been operating this mechanism smoothly for five years since I handed over the CEO job in 2013.
We have created a partnership that deals creatively with issues of innovation, leadership succession, and cultural heritage. Over the past few years, we have continuously developed and improved our system for recruiting talented employees. I am convinced that Alibaba's partnership system and efforts to protect our culture will be increasingly agreed and supported by our customers, employees and shareholders.
Yong Zhang has been with Alibaba for 11 years. Since becoming CEO of Alibaba Group, he has demonstrated outstanding business talent and leadership excellence, and has achieved sustained growth of Alibaba for 13 consecutive quarters. His dares to innovate new business models and formats with his strong logic and mind. He was named China's top CEO for 2018, winning the trust and support of customers, employees and shareholders. I think giving Alibaba's torch to him and his team is the right decision that I should make now.
I still have many beautiful dreams for the future. Apart from continuing to be a partner of Alibaba, making efforts and contributing to the mechanism of the partnership organisation, I want to return to the educational career and that will make me very excited and happy. I can promise you that Alibaba will never belong to Jack Ma, but Jack will always belong to Alibaba.”
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