It’s known as one of the largest Internet and AI companies in the world. It’s also one of the biggest venture capital firms and also one of the biggest investment corporations in the world. Its online sales have surpassed Walmart Amazon and eBay combined. They’re also responsible for the rising surge in a web browser in India. This is Alibaba.
What exactly is Alibaba?
That is not exactly an easy question to answer. Why? Because of the sheer magnitude of fields that Alibaba is involved in. For starters, the Alibaba group has an eCommerce and retail service platform. Whilst the namesake website caters towards B2B markets, AliExpress focuses on the B2C market. You’ve probably even bought stuff online through it.
The group also has their own cloud computing and AI technology platform along with a mobile operating system as well. If you think that wasn’t enough, the Alibaba group also has a Fintech and online payment platform as well, together with their own entertainment service, AliMusic.
The dawn of a new era?
In the early hours of the morning, Alibaba group officially announced that Jack Ma – Co-founder and executive chairman, would be stepping down. Listed as one of the wealthiest people in the world, Ma is also a global ambassador for Chinese business and also one of the world’s most powerful people according to Forbes.
Following his step down, Daniel Zhang, the current CEO of Alibaba Group will take the reigns, acting as chairman. While Ma is planning to step down on the 10th of September 2019, he will continue serving as a board member until the annual general shareholders meeting in 2020. He would remain a lifetime partner of the Alibaba Partnership which is a group of 36 partners comprising of senior management of the Alibaba Group.
So is Jack Ma actually retiring?
Well, he’s not retiring, per se. Rather, Jack Ma noted that his departure from the Alibaba group would be gradual. After stepping down, Ma’s plan appears to be dedicating his time to philanthropy and education. In case you didn’t already know, Jack Ma was also a lecturer in English and International Trade at Hangzhou Dianzi University.
Jack Ma stepped down as CEO of the group in 2013, handing the position over to Jonathan Lu. In turn, Lu was replaced by Daniel Zhang in 2015. This was after Ma reportedly told employees that he felt it was time for the company to be run by people born in the 1970s and after. Ma also noted that Zhang had showcased very impressive talent and leadership upon taking up the role as CEO. He has also talked numerous times about how he didn’t want to spend his life at the company, but would one day retire and go back to teaching.
What does the future hold for Alibaba?
Well, we can’t really say. China’s internet industry has grown, resulting in stringent measures by the Chinese government to tighten their grip on internet access. In addition, the Chinese economy is also facing a slowing growth and an increase in debt as well. In addition, the company is also facing a tough time expanding internationally. Despite all this, Jack Ma doesn’t see his retirement or stepping down as the end of an era. Rather he says it’s “the beginning of an era”.