Clad in a black “punk rock” vest with slicked-back hair, big sunglasses, and an orange guitar, Ma sang the first verse of “You Raise Me Up” to around 50,000 audience members, most of them Alibaba employees, gathered in an Olympic-sized stadium in Hangzhou before giving way to Daniel Zhang, the company’s new chairman, who belted out the chorus.
The performance effectively saw Zhang take center space for the first time. Known as being considerably more low-key than the ultra-quirky business guru Ma, it remains to be seen how he will manage to fill in the gap left by his predecessor’s personality.
Ma has become notorious for putting on some gloriously awkward performances at Alibaba’s annual birthday bashes, dressing up in outlandish costumes, singing songs, and showing off his best Michael Jackson dance moves.
This time around, Ma performed rocker Wang Feng’s classic “Blooming Life” (怒放的生命) on the bed of a truck that slowly drove around the arena’s track.