Jack Ma, the founder of China’s top e-commerce company, announced in January that he’d step down from his role as Alibaba Group CEO. This afternoon, Alibaba has named Ma’s successor, ‘Jonathan’ Lu Zhaoxi, who’ll take over the top job on May 10. It’s a date that marks the 10th anniversary of the founding of Taobao, the company’s iconic amateur shopkeeper marketplace.
Ma had indicated that he was vacating the Alibaba hotseat as he was “no longer young enough” for such a role in the internet business. He’s 48. The new kid on the block, Jonathan Lu, is 43. Lu joined Alibaba in 2000.
Alibaba’s official blog notes that Lu “has led three of its major divisions and steered Taobao, the group’s market-dominant online shopping platform, during a period of high growth.”
Ma remains as Alibaba chairman, and might well take up the burden of steering the company towards a massive IPO this year which could value the firm at well over US$40-billion. In an internal email today, Ma wrote:
Jonathan and I have worked together for 13 years. During that time, he founded the Alibaba.com Guangdong sales team; was the founding president of Alipay; served as president of Big Taobao; stepped in as CEO of the then-listed Alibaba.com. He is currently the Group’s chief data officer and president of Aliyun Mobile OS.
He is passionate about and familiar with the Group’s various businesses. Not only has he contributed to building our culture and organization and developed many talented people, he also possesses a unique leadership style and charisma.
In a statement, new CEO Lu told staffers:
We live in an era of rapid change where pressures and challenges coexist, but we must not forget our purpose and keep in mind the premise of ‘Customer First.’ We must continue to… adhere to the principles of openness and transparency as we share Alibaba Group’s resources with the entire society.