Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma will step down from his post in 12 months and will reportedly be replaced by Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang, according to CNBC.
Ma announced the decision via a letter to Alibaba stakeholders obtained by CNBC, in which he stated that current Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang will succeed him as chairman. After that, he intends to stay on the Alibaba board of directors until the 2020 annual shareholders meeting.
“Starting the process of passing the Alibaba torch to Daniel and his team is the right decision at the right time, because I know from working with them that they are ready, and I have complete confidence in our next generation of leaders,” Ma wrote in the letter, according to CNBC.
It was previously reported that the succession plan has been 10-years in the making for Alibaba.
“I sat down with our senior executives 10 years ago and asked what Alibaba would do without me,” Ma told the South China Morning Post. “I’m very proud that Alibaba now has the structure, corporate culture, governance and system for grooming talent that allows me to step away without causing disruption.”
Ma had previously stepped down from the position of chief executive officer in 2013. In his current role as group chairman, he primarily serves as an advisor and figurehead who travels the world for speaking engagements as well as partnerships.
Ma co-founded Alibaba in 1999. Today, the company is considered China’s equivalent of the e-commerce giant Amazon and is regarded as one of the most valuable brands in China. Like Amazon, it maintains business interests in various categories, including digital media, entertainment, online retail and web-based services.
Moving into retirement, Ma aims to use his business success to focus on charitable causes, including education and environmentalism. He has said he intends to focus his energy strategically even as he leaves Alibaba.
“There are so many things that I want to devote my time to–education, the environment, philanthropy,” reports Ma. “Anybody who knows me knows I embrace the future. This is not about retiring, stepping away, or backing off. This is a systematic plan.”