Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma to retire

Alibaba CEO Zhang to succeed Jack Ma as Chairman

Ma said that after he steps down from his current roles he will continue to mentor management as part of the "Alibaba Partnership", a 36-member group of core company managers.

Ma, 53, will unveil a plan to find a successor, and is set to remain as executive chairman while the search is carried out, according to reports.

Ma has remained the public face of Alibaba, showing off his wit and dispensing folksy wisdom on the global stage. "Globalisation is one of our key strategies for Alibaba".

"Jack Ma's said CFOs don't make good CEOs, but Daniel is an exception", said Kim Eng Securities analyst Mitchell Kim.

But he doesn't have the same star power that founders in China's large tech companies hold, including Jack Ma, Baidu Inc's (BIDU.O) Robin Li and Tencent Holdings Ltd's (0700.HK) Pony Ma. The co-founder of China's e-commerce juggernaut plans to leave the company next year.

With an aim to connect Chinese entrepreneurs with the world, Ma - who was a teacher in English and worldwide trade at a university in Hangzhou - about 180km southwest of Shanghai, founded in 1999 the e-commerce platform Alibaba.com, which rose to become one of the largest companies in the world.

"Ma possesses an enviable clarity about how everything fits together", said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing company China Skinny. He helped build it into a $420 billion company with more than 500 million Chinese customers who use the site to purchase everything from clothes to cement. "All these things that I've been preparing for 10 years".

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Alibaba is incredible not because of our business or scale or accomplishments. He had been CEO of the company until 2000.

Since the founding of the company in 1999, we have been of the view that Alibaba's future will need to depend on "droves of talent" to enable us to iterate on our management succession plans.

So I said in my next life, if I still can have a next life, I will never do a business like this.

Ma described Zhang as having "superb talent, business acumen and determined leadership". Recently, Ma has been taking full advantage of his fame, belting out "Unchained Melody" at a Chinese music festival, doing his best Michael Jackson impression at Alibaba's birthday bash past year, and even starring in his own kung-fu flick alongside the likes of Jet Li and Donnie Yen. His analytical mind is unparalleled, he holds dear our mission and vision, he embraces responsibility with passion, and he has the guts to innovate and test creative business models. "'I love education, ' he said".

Mr Ma said recently in an interview with Bloomberg that "there's a lot of things I can learn from Bill Gates", who also founded his own philanthropic foundation before stepping down as chief executive of Microsoft.

Other members include Eric Jing, chief of Alibaba payment affiliate Ant Financial [ANTFIN.UL], Joe Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba, Simon Hu, chief of Alibaba Cloud, and Lucy Peng, who heads Alibaba's Southeast Asia business. "The world is big, and I am still young, so I want to try new things", the Chinese business icon's letter added.

Ma says that he has been carefully preparing for this company transition for a decade.

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