Jack Ma, the popular Chinese e-commerce magnate and co-founder of China’s largest e-commerce company Alibaba, will be reportedly surrendering his ownership of the legal entities of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., in China. As disclosed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the change is being made to ease the administrative burden on Mr. Ma.
According to the sources with the knowledge of the matter, Jack Ma, 54, will step down as Alibaba’s chairman next year and will pass on the reins to Chief Executive Daniel Zhang. Ma, however, plans to continue as the founding partner in the Alibaba Partnership – a group of executives who hold the right to nominate most of the company’s board members, despite not holding a majority in the company’s shares.
Alibaba has also confirmed the move of Jack Ma retiring as one of the owners from “variable interest entities”. For those uninitiated, the VIEs typically allow the technology companies of China to tap foreign entities and overseas markets for investments and capitals.
Industry experts cite that it quite rare for a founder with such a transformative and giant tech firm and exclusively with a cult-like status like Ma, to retire at such an early stage. There is only Bill Gates who has earlier done the same, or else no other founders across the globe has just stepped down like that from the top, as stated by Rupert Hoogewerf, founder of the Hurun Report.
Ma, co-founded Alibaba in 1999 with 17 others and owns roughly 6% in Alibaba’s share and also controls Ant Financial. Being a former English teacher with no technical background, Ma has become one among China’s richest, with a net worth of USD 36.6 billion.
In the latest reported quarter, Alibaba saw sales at its e-commerce business climb by a significant 61%, however, the profit margins remain tight as the firm battles to keep its dominant stance in e-commerce and payments.