SHANGHAI: Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma will step down from the Chinese agency on Tuesday, leaving his handpicked successor a frightening process of steering the $460 billion juggernaut at a time when the marketplace for its core e-commerce enterprise has slowed sharply.
As Ma, who turns 55 on Tuesday, holds centerstage at his farewell party within the 80,000-capacity Hangzhou Olympic Sports activities Middle stadium to the accompaniment of music and celeb performances, attendees shall be hoping to get clues on how Alibaba shall be run underneath his inheritor Daniel Zhang.
An accountant by commerce, soft-spoken Alibaba CEO Zhang marks a stark distinction to Ma whose flamboyant model and charismatic management made him probably the most recognised Chinese entrepreneur for the reason that former English trainer based the corporate 20 years in the past in a small shared condo in Hangzhou metropolis in japanese China.
“He has the logic and demanding pondering expertise of a brilliant pc, a dedication to his imaginative and prescient, the braveness to wholeheartedly dare to tackle progressive enterprise fashions and industries of the long run,” Ma mentioned of Zhang in 2018 in a message asserting his appointment.
One among Zhang’s main challenges shall be discovering new areas of development as China’s e-commerce sector matures, analysts mentioned.
Final week, Alibaba introduced investments of $2.7 billion in luxurious items retail platform Kaola and a music streaming agency in strikes that partly demonstrated its flexibility in adopting new methods.
“If Alibaba needs to seek out new improvements or developments that is going to be tougher than earlier than,” mentioned Liu Yiming, an analyst on the analysis division of 36kr, a Chinese tech publishing group.
“For Daniel Zhang, this shall be a giant problem.”
China’s on-line retail gross sales grew simply 17.eight% within the first half of 2019, nearly halving from the 32.four% development of the prior yr, based on the nationwide statistics workplace.
The resignation plan introduced by Ma final yr was perceived as uncommon as it’s uncommon for a founding father of such a giant and transformative tech agency to retire this early.
Below Ma’s management, Alibaba has grown to turn into Asia’s most respected listed firm, with a present market capitalisation of $460 billion. It employs over 100,000 folks, and has expanded into monetary companies, cloud computing and synthetic intelligence.
When Ma makes his farewell speech, traders wish to hear how he shall be concerned in administration and whether or not he’ll proceed to steer the corporate’s broad technique. Ma has mentioned that he’ll proceed to mentor administration.
After his resignation, Ma, China’s richest man with a internet value of $38.four billion, based on Forbes, is about to spend extra time on philanthropy and training. But he’ll stay a member of Alibaba’s partnership, a company governing group of 38 people that’s separate from the board of administrators.
Whereas the story of Ma’s success has turn into legend in China and offers him nearly cult-like standing there, he has additionally suffered some setbacks that Zhang would want to restore.
Ma struggled to broaden Alibaba internationally, with the failed $1.2 billion acquisition of remittance supplier MoneyGram marking a key disappointment.
Its Taobao market has been accused by abroad luxurious items sellers of being a haven for counterfeit merchandise. It’s on a US listing of “infamous markets” for items that infringe on American mental property, a primary supply of friction in an escalating commerce struggle between Beijing and Washington.
Ma additionally drew ire and sparked a nationwide debate about work tradition in China earlier this yr when he urged tech firm workers to work nights and weekends.
Whereas it stays to be seen how Alibaba shall be steered by Zhang, Tuesday’s extravaganza guarantees to supply a spectacle and probably a last alternative for Ma to show showmanship.
At earlier firm occasions, he dressed up as Michael Jackson or a punk rocker and carried out musical numbers.
“I anticipate an extended, lengthy ceremony with Jack exhibiting up on the finish – in dramatic model, in fact,” says one Alibaba worker.
“And loads of folks with their computer systems out working.”