Alibaba founder Jack Ma is set to step down as CEO of the Chinese ecommerce giant, although he will retain his seat as chairman of the board.
The move is reportedly part of a strategy by the company to make room for a younger generation of leaders.
Ma, a former English teacher, established the company back in 1999. Since then, the company has boomed and today employs 24 000 people and is worth around US$40-billion. Late last year it also managed, to go past US$3-billion in sales in 24 hours.
At 48, Ma feels that he is no longer young in the online world and wants to make room for “the next generation of Alibaba people,” he said.
“I believe that doing what makes oneself happy, staying within one’s own limits and being a good partner to one’s more capable colleagues, is the right thing for me to do,” he added.
Ma will step down on 10 May, the 10th anniversary of the launch of its Taobao platform. He is confident that the company will find a new CEO by that time.
Ma also admitted that he had never really thought of himself as the CEO of a major company. Things certainly haven’t always been easy at the company. In 2011, it faced a major fraud investigation, while its disputes with Yahoo! eventually saw it buying back the fallen US giant’s stake in it.