Today, as we mark the 19th anniversary of Alibaba, I am excited to share some news with you: with the approval of our board of directors, one year from today on September 10, 2019 which also falls on Alibaba's 20th anniversary, Group CEO Daniel Zhang will succeed me as chairman of the board of Alibaba Group.
Alibaba said Jack Ma will remain a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a group of 36 people that has the right to nominate a majority of the company's board of directors.
Over the course of his tenure at Alibaba, Ma became China's richest man, earning a net worth of more than $40 billion.
Ma wrote: "Teachers always want their students to exceed them, so the responsible thing to do for me and the company to do is to let younger, more talented people take over in leadership roles so that they inherit our mission 'to make it easy to do business anywhere.' Carrying out this mission in order to help small businesses, young people and women around the world is my passion".
Ma defended the arrangement as necessary to ensure Alibaba focuses on long-term development instead of responding to pressure from financial markets.
With no background in computing, Mr Ma co-founded Alibaba in his apartment almost two decades ago, having convinced a group of friends to invest in his online marketplace. He served as president of Alibaba's consumer-focused Tmall.com business unit.
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Ma fought back by launching Taobao, an eBay-style consumer-to-consumer site. With a 6.4 percent stake in Alibaba, Ma is estimated to be worth almost $40 billion.
Ma's success was tempered by complaints Alibaba allowed counterfeiters to thrive on its sales platforms. Both were later removed but complaints from makers of luxury goods and other brand owners intensified. The two sides settled the dispute past year with an agreement to cooperate in combating trafficking in fakes.
Not just the private sector, Alibaba is also increasing its footprint in the government sector. That made him China's highest profile business leader, a rarity in a country where many come up through the ranks of state-owned enterprises, and is a supporter of the ruling Communist Party. Along the way, he hived off a payments service in controversial fashion, creating the $150 billion online finance giant Ant Financial. Alibaba also has expanded into entertainment, set up its own film studio and invested in logistics and delivery services.
In the letter on Monday, Ma said he had been planning his exit for ten years and has previously said he wants the company to last 102 years, choosing a specific number to motivate employees.
The company has added around $200 billion to its market value since he became CEO.
Ma has faced controversy, including when it was disclosed in 2011 that Alibaba had transferred control over Alipay to a company controlled by Ma without immediately informing shareholders including Yahoo Inc. and Japan's Softback. The dispute was later resolved by Alibaba, Yahoo and Softbank.