The Many Explanations for Why Jack Ma, China’s Wealthiest Man, Is Retiring

The Many Explanations for Why Jack Ma, China’s Wealthiest Man, Is Retiring
Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of Alibaba, leaves a press conference in Bangkok, Thailand, April 19, 2018 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

Editor’s note: Every Wednesday, WPR’s newsletter and engagement editor, Benjamin Wilhelm, curates the top news and analysis from China written by the experts who follow it.

Chinese internet and e-commerce goliath Alibaba announced on Monday that Jack Ma, its founder and chairman of the board, will step down next September. Ma, who was an English teacher when he launched Alibaba with 17 of his students and friends, has become one of China’s most famous entrepreneurs and its richest.

Ma’s replacement will be Daniel Zhang, who became CEO in 2013 as part of what Ma said was a long-planned succession. Zhang’s crowning achievement at Alibaba is the “Double 11” shopping festival, now known in China as Singles’ Day, which brought in 168 billion yuan—$25 billion—last year and has easily surpassed Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day as the world’s largest 24-hour shopping event.

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