ack Ma is now officially stepping down as Alibaba’s chairman, leaving the position $41.8 billion richer than when he came in.
A former English teacher from Hangzhou, Ma co-founded Alibaba in 1999, turning the company into a $480 billion e-commerce giant and himself into China’s most influential business guru.
On Monday, Ma paid a visit to his company’s Binjiang Campus to say his goodbyes to old colleagues. He was quickly swarmed by his employees who shouted out their congratulations and showered him with applause.
Ma is stepping down on his 55th birthday and Alibaba’s 20th. There is currently a mass celebration getting underway at an Olympic-sized sports stadium in Hangzhou.
The celebration promises to be a memorable one as Ma is known for putting on a show at the company’s annual birthday bashes, unafraid to dress up in ridiculous costumes or dance like Michael Jackson.
Ma announced last year that he would be stepping down as Alibaba’s chairman on September 10, 2019. He will remain on the company’s board until 2020 and will stay on as a lifetime partner.
Taking over for him will be Daniel Zhang, already Alibaba’s CEO since 2015. Zhang is far more low-key than Ma, described as the Clark Kent to Ma’s Superman by Duncan Clark, author of Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built. Zhang is credited with spearheading Alibaba’s annual Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza, the biggest single retail event in human history.
Ma’s exact retirement plans are unclear, however, he reportedly plans to spend his time focusing on charity projects and those dealing with education in particular.
“I also want to return to education, which excites me with so much blessing because this is what I love to do,” Ma wrote last year. “The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things – because what if new dreams can be realized?!”
A man of many talents, Ma will likely have no shortage of ways to fill his time during his golden years. Recently, Ma has been taking full advantage of his fame, belting out “Unchained Melody” at a Chinese music festival, debating AI with Elon Musk, and even starring in his own kung-fu flick alongside the likes of Jet Li and Donnie Yen. It’s possible that Ma will become only more visible in retirement.